MUMBAI: A mid-size business jet, operating a charter flight from Visakhapatnam with eight people on board, crashed while attempting to land in heavy rain at Mumbai airport on Thursday. The aircraft fuselage broke into two on impact. While there were no casualties, reports indicated that both pilots suffered spinal injury, while the passengers have sustained multiple injuries and fractures.
Among the passengers onboard the aircraft was Dhruv Kotak, MD of Mumbai-based conglomerate J M Baxi Ports & Logistics Ltd, Arul Sal, his executive assistant, K K Krishnadas, president and COO of J M Baxi, Aakarsh Shethi, and Lars Sorensen, MD of Hapag Lloyd India. The pilot-in-command was Sunil Bhat, while the first officer was Neil Diwan.

Small aircraft with eight onboard skids off Mumbai runway

All eight crash victims were transported to Criticare Hospital in Andheri (East) at 5:53 pm, with both pilots sustaining the most severe injuries. First officer Neil Diwan suffered a spinal fracture leading to paraplegia. Dr Deepak Namjoshi, director of Criticare, indicated the need for immediate surgery as Diwan had zero sensation in his legs.
Sunil Bhat, the pilot in command, endured a lumbar spine injury and forehead abrasions but did not sustain neurological damage, doctors said. Namjoshi added the sole crew member, Kamakshi, and the other passengers suffered fractures and soft tissue injuries, but said most of them were hemodynamically stable.
With the damaged aircraft stranded off the main runway, flight operations at Mumbai airport were suspended for an hour and half. A total of 39 arriving flights were diverted, said a source.
The accident occurred at 5.02pm and the runway was reopened at 6.47pm after a safety inspection, said a Mumbai airport spokesperson.
The 14-year-old Bombardier Learjet-45XR aircraft (VT-DBL) belonging to Delhi-based VSR Ventures had departed Visakhapatnam at 3.23pm with two pilots, a cabin crew member and five passengers, including the Danish national, said an aviation source. “It was raining heavily and the aircraft was very high when it crossed the runway threshold. The aircraft banked almost 30 degrees. Then it went out of my sight. But seconds later we heard the air traffic controller shouting ‘crash, crash’,” said an airline commander whose aircraft was in the queue to take off from Mumbai airport.
CCTV footage from a hangar showed the Learjet aircraft (VT-DBL) come over runway 27, bank heavily and nose-dive to the ground to throw up clouds of dust.
The visibility at the airport was low at 700 metres with heavy rain when the aircraft came into land, said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). “The aircraft broke into two, it will be written off,” said a source.
(With inputs from Chittaranjan Tembhekar)

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