In Brief

Air India worker sucked into aircraft engine

Inquiry launched into death of Ravi Subramanium at Mumbai airport

An aircraft service engineer has died after he was "sucked into the engine" of a plane at Mumbai airport.

The "freak accident" occurred as the Air India A319 aircraft was being pushed back from its parking bay before take-off, reports The Times of India. "No one knew what happened. All of a sudden… we heard that the technician has been sucked into the engine," an airline source told the newspaper.

The engineer, identified as Ravi Subramanium, was in his forties. A police official said "the body has been badly mutilated". Many of the passengers who were on the flight are said to have been traumatised by the incident.

An airline official said: "When an aircraft is being pushed back, the engine, even if it has been started, is on idle thrust, that's about 10 per cent of its total thrust. During taxiing it's never more than 35 per cent. Ground staff and technicians know quite well the area that should be kept clear in front of the engines."

India's directorate general of civil aviation has launched an inquiry into the incident, while Air India chairman Ashwani Lohani will travel to Mumbai to examine the scene. "We are deeply saddened and regret this tragic incident," said Lohani. "This is being investigated. Our heartfelt condolence to the bereaved family."

A similar incident happened in India 20 years ago. In 1995, a man crossing the Hyderabad runway on his moped was sucked into the engines of a recently landed aircraft.

"That person was a bystander who was neither working at the airport, not with any airline," said a source. "He borrowed an airport pass from a policeman posted at the airport who happened to be his relative and that is how he got access to crossing the runway on his moped. That was the time airport security was not very stringent and access was not tightly controlled."

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