Security scare at Mumbai airport after man jumps off plane, walks away
It is no secret that as soon as an aircraft’s wheels touch the tarmac, passengers begin to behave like prisoners would if a plane door was the only thing standing between them and freedom.
No sooner does the seat belt sign go off than people begin scrambling to grab their bags from the overhead bins in a bid to be the first to deplane. One Akash Jain, however, took that impatience to a whole new level last afternoon, exposing a flaw in the security procedures followed by the airline in the process.
Jet Airways’ Chandigarh-Mumbai flight 9W469 had scarcely come to a standstill just metres away from the arrival building at the domestic airport when Jain opened the emergency exit right in the middle of the aircraft, and jumped off.
Landing from a height of nearly 15 feet, the 30-year-old casually walked away even as the other passengers inside were left shell-shocked by what had just happened. Before anyone could do anything, he had made his way out of the airport, raising serious questions about the security procedures that were followed.
The plane, a Boeing 737 flight with 144 passengers and 5 crew members onboard, was scheduled to land at 3.15 pm yesterday. It landed safely at the airport at 3.01 pm, however, and left the runway to halt at parking bay 1, which is barely a few metres from the arrivals building of Terminal 1B at 3.05 pm.
As soon as the aircraft came to a standstill, Jain, whose seat number was 20F, opened the emergency door and jumped down in the apron area. Sources said the shocked passengers raised their voices to inform the crew, but by the time the crew reached the emergency exit, Jain had already walked away.
He walked a few meters and then asked a loader from another flight where the closest exit point was. He was pointed to the arrival terminal, which was around 20 metres from the aircraft. Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) footage showed Jain, in black t-shirt and brown shorts, leaving the terminal at 3.16pm.
To further escalate the security breach, officials said the Jet security staff informed the security agencies at the domestic terminal about the incident only around 3.40pm.
An airport official said that it took Jain around five minutes to enter the terminal building after jumping off the aircraft. “If the incident took place after the aircraft landed, why didn’t the airline security staff inform the security agencies immediately? Why did they need 35 minutes to do so?
The passenger took 10 minutes to leave the terminal premises and the scenario would have been completely different had the local police and security agencies at the airport been informed immediately,” he said.
“Without being informed, the security agencies had no reason to think that Jain was not just another passenger and prevent him from entering the arrivals building from the air side,” he added.
AC off, chinese fliers open emergency doors
In January, passengers on a plane departing an airport in China opened three emergency exits just as their plane was pushing back from the gate as the crew had turned off the AC for 30 minutes. The flight was cancelled and 25 passengers onboard were detained.
Aviation Expert Vipul Saxena said, “The incident, wherein a passenger opened the emergency door and jumped off the aircraft and neither the ground technical crew nor the security staff were alert enough to nab the person, is bizarre. It is also surprising that the cabin crew were not alert enough to hear the noise and inform the pilot or the ground staff.”
Madhukar Sankhe, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Airport Division said, “We are looking into the matter. We are checking the CCTV footage and are trying to trace this passenger, who landed from the Chandigarh flight. We cannot state the IPC sections under which we can book Jain as the investigations are on.”
A Jet Airways spokesperson said, ”A guest travelling on Jet Airways flight 9W 469 from Chandigarh to Mumbai opened the emergency door and disembarked, alighting onto the aircraft’s wings after the aircraft had come to a standstill at the parking bay at Mumbai airport. Security agencies were immediately alerted and are carrying out further investigations.”