Guwahati: The presence of mind of two women pilots saved the lives of 48 passengers and the crew aboard a Guwahati-bound Air India plane Sunday after it was noticed that a front wheel of the aircraft missing as it came in to land here.
"During a pre-landing check, the ATC discovered that one of the two front wheels were missing. The pilots were immediately informed and an emergency was declared at Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) Airport," a source in the Airports Authority of India (AAI) here told IANS.
The ATR flight from Silchar was being flown by Urmila Yadav and co-pilot Yashu.
They kept the aircraft circling for more than two hours over the airport to burn off the fuel while preparations were being made for an emergency landing, the source said.
"In such a situation, the remaining fuel is always burnt off to lighten the aircraft and prevent a fatal accident while landing.
"It was a good decision to burn the highly inflammable fuel as it sometimes lead to fatal accidents during emergency landings, the source said.
Although panic gripped passengers after they came to know about the snag, the plane landed safely and the passengers and crew were evacuated and were safe, an AAI official said.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi congratulated the pilots over the phone for their courage in landing the and saving precious lives.
The aircraft lost its front wheel during take off, a statement issued from the Chief Minister`s Office here said.