Fire In Mumbai: Tug Bursts Into Flames During Air India Pushback

A tug was being prepared to push back an Air India Airbus A320 this morning when it rapidly caught fire at the airport. The tow had burst into flames at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International at approximately 10:45 local time.

Air India’s passengers and crew members avoided what could have been a potentially tragic disaster on the ground at what is India’s second busiest airport, behind Delhi, this morning. Photo: Getty Images

Set ablaze

The tow was getting ready to push the A320 to conduct Flight AI647 to Jamnagar, Gujarat, which is an approximately 1.5-hour hop northwest of Mumbai, Maharashtra. However, the vehicle suddenly went up in flames before moving the aircraft.

The Times of India reports that emergency services were swiftly on the scene to tackle the fire. The A320 was thankfully far enough for the flames not to spread to the narrowbody.

“The tow bar was being attached to the A320 aircraft when it suddenly caught fire. The pushback tug had just returned after refuelling.” – a Times of India source

In a video shared on Twitter, firefighters at the airport can be seen putting the flames out while standing close to the tug. Overall, the scenes look calm with no major panic following the extinguishing of the fire.

The aircraft in action

According to RadarBox.com, Flight AI647 took off at 11:35 IST after being scheduled to fly at 11:50. The A320-251N, holding registration VT-EXM, then landed at Jamnagar Airport at 12:59 IST. The aircraft has had a busy day, having also landed in Nagpur, Bhopal, and back in Mumbai.

RadarBox.com Air India
Flight AI647’s total departure taxi time today was 30 minutes and the duration of the flight was 1 hour and 24 minutes. Photo: RadarBox.com

There were 85 people on board the A320 when the incident occurred. They will all be thankful that the fire broke out before the tug was connected to the aircraft.

Air India A320
Air India is a fan of the Airbus A320 family, with 21 A319-100s, nine A320-200s, 27 A320-200Ns, and 20 A321-200s in its fleet. Photo: Getty Images

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A series of recent concerns

This incident follows a week of other notable fire reports across the aviation industry. On January 8th, an Aviastar Tupolev Tu-204-100C caught fire at Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, China. The aircraft had been pushed back for a flight to Novosibirsk and completely burned down.

The event followed the diversion of a Ryanair Boeing 737-800 that performed an emergency landing in Brest, France, on January 3rd after reports of a fire on board the plane. However, the aircraft was soon released back into service following an inspection.

Fortunately, there are no reports of injuries to staff and passengers or damage to the Air India aircraft today. Nonetheless, the airline’s new management and the airport personnel will be hoping to avoid such an incident from happening again.

What are your thoughts about this tug fire as an Air India Airbus A320 aircraft was being prepared for push back in Mumbai? What do you make of the overall situation at the airport? Let us know what you think of the incident in the comment section.

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