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Old 8th January 2017, 17:57   #1
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Default A trip I'd like to forget: Onboard the Jet Airways flight that skidded off a runway

My apologies beforehand, if you find this post too long to read. In following words, I've tried to narrate my rendezvous with what I thought would be my last moments. I've reproduced here the first person account of a traumatized passenger of the ill fated flight 9W2374 from Goa to Mumbai on 27-Dec-2016, which I wrote for an online publication 'dailyO'. Original article is posted here with some pictures: http://www.dailyo.in/voices/jet-airw...y/1/14900.html
Sorry for the delay in putting it up here. I just hope no one should go through such an experience ever.


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I have always felt a little sad at the Goa airport when returning from holidays. This time the feeling was mixed since I was going to meet my family the next day after a full week. My son and my wife had gone to her parent’s place for Christmas holidays and I found this opportunity over the weekend to unwind in Goa all alone - for the first time in years.

Little did I know that this flight from Goa to Mumbai in the wee hours of Tuesday would be the worst nightmare of my life. I web-checked on Monday and was able to get a first row window seat, not suspecting that it was part of destiny and a hint of someone watching for me from above.

So when you have an early morning flight (4.40 am), it doesn’t make sense to sleep at all the previous night since you need to reach the airport early.

Anyway, I was happy to find the flight on time. All seated by 4.55 am, I heard the crew say “all 154 passengers on board” and the plane pushed back to taxi towards the runway, with the airhostesses making the customary announcements.

I took out my phone devices, switched them off and could see the runway lights going past. The plane had begun its journey to the end of the runway to make a U-turn and then take off. I relaxed my head, hoping for a nap before the end of the flight.

Just when I was about to close my eyes, a violent jerk shook me back to alertness. For a split second, I thought it was one of the routine ones on uneven runways, but the thought lasted only for a second.

The aircraft was on full throttle, as is normal at the time of take-off; only this time I could feel my body pressed towards the window since the plane had veered to the right of the runway, in the field adjoining it. It was terrifying!

The lights went off. Passengers had begun screaming due to the jerks and because some of them had noticed a blaze in the left engine. This went on for about 10-12 seconds, the most difficult ones of my life. By now it had started to dawn on me that these were probably my last moments.

A shiver ran down my spine as the aircraft seemed to be rolling on a surface similar to what I thought would be appropriate to call "craters of the moon". I was almost convinced that the plane would halt when it crashed into a structure - since my assumption was that the brakes had failed and the pilot had no control over the aircraft.

However, as abruptly as the crisis had started, the plane suddenly jolted to a halt.

By this time, my handbag, which I had put safely under the seat, was in front of my legs. I saw my copassenger's seat unbuckled and my survival reflexes made me quickly do the same. I picked my bag and ran towards the front doors.

I will never forget the look on the face of the shivering airhostess. Another one was trying to open the door. Another five seconds passed before I saw the slide go down - there were only two persons in front of me.

The airhostess seemed to find her voice and was able to squeak “run"! Well, I took that literally and instead of sliding down the emergency escape chute, I ran off it. Luckily, I did not land on my face.

Again, I believe it was the luckiest and at the same time scariest day of my life. As soon as I hit the ground, I noticed a narrow path going towards a building where the lights were just being turned on, probably after someone heard the loud noises.

It was pitch dark and the air was rent with sounds of the dying engine, screams, panic and smoke; not to miss the faint smell of fuel! I ran the fastest I ever had, away from the smoking aircraft.

Once safe near the building, I turned around to see people sprinting in my direction, away from smoke. I could hear kids crying, women screaming, even profanities, and soon couples around me were hugging, some people were shooting videos from their phones and the most bizarre one was a group taking selfies with the damaged aircraft in the background.

Then came the heart-wrenching scenes of the injured. I saw a lady with her son (about 10 years old) pleading for help. She seemed to have injured her shoulder. Her son was trying to stop her from screaming in pain, but soon joined in her pleas to get medical aid.

I tried to console them and looked around for help/an ambulance, but there was nothing in sight! Another lady, who said she was pregnant, was badly hurt in her right leg. It was swollen to twice the size of her other leg. She was in agonizing pain and pleading for a doctor. But there was no help. Almost 20 minutes went by when I saw a person in uniform - a navy man.

I could also see the flashing lights of fire engines in the distance, but they were unable to approach the plane due to the difficult terrain.

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Two airhostesses approached us, still shivering and crying from the incident, not knowing what to do apart from telling everyone to stay away from the aircraft.

One of them had the first-aid boxes, which were sealed, and they moved on to aid the injured ladies. The airhostesses were so startled that they couldn’t even open the sealed aid boxes. I helped one of them open the box and we searched for the pain relief spray - which was missing – though there were other pain relieving ointments.

Most of the injured had got hurt because they had jumped from near the wings of the plane accessed through the emergency exit windows in the middle of the aircraft. It was a drop of 8 feet, with the ground below ridden with boulders.

About 25 minutes after the incident, I saw the first stretcher being brought towards us. The two women were taken away. By now I could see a lot of men from the navy, airport staff as well as the airline (Jet Airways) staff. Except the navy guys, no one seemed to have a clue about what to do. If it wasn’t for the navy, our pain would have lasted longer. They took command of the situation, asked passengers to not panic.

Another 30 minutes passed before we saw the Jet Airways coaches come towards the runway to pick us from the field. A lot of passengers had to leave without their belongings, which were still in the aircraft, such as mobile phones, passports, wallets and even shoes.

Once we reached the main terminal, it was only after repeated requests that Jet Airways arranged for water and refreshments, but not meals. Sandwich, samosa and coffee was all we got.

Somewhere in between all this, we saw the pilots and crew leave the airport in a cab. Rumour was that they had been taken to a local government hospital for tests, including the alcohol test.

Finally, the airline released luggage from the plane around noon. By then, the media had reached the airport and a lot of “witness accounts” were being recorded and beamed across TV channels.

This, however, was in no way the last of our woes.

When we reached the departure halls for our ticket back to Mumbai, we were shocked to know that none of the passengers from the ill-fated flight had been prioritised on the first Jet Airways flight out of Goa to Mumbai (at 2 pm).

That created another ruckus, with the airline officials trying to avoid the angry passengers. Resigned, we all had no option but to take the later flight, at 5.30 pm.

I did learn some lessons from the incident - 1) Be grateful for everything in your life and never take any moment for granted and 2) Never fly again with Jet Airways, or for that matter trust any corporation apathetic to customers.

I also happened to read the open letter the pilot of the aircraft wrote to everyone, and found it really surprising.

In the moments after being rescued from the field that day, I had felt a surge of gratitude for the pilot, and even thought of thanking him for saving our lives.

But after reading his letter, I couldn’t help but think that he was trying to play victim.

I say: Why wouldn’t I judge you when I pay fares from my taxable income? Why wouldn’t I judge your experience and capability when I, including everyone on that plane, felt there was a delay in cutting out the throttle? Why would I not judge you when I leave my life in your hands? Why would I not judge you when your airline is so apathetic to survivors? Why would I not judge you when even 10 days after the incident, I wake up in the middle of the night with nightmares? Why would I not judge you when I for sure know that you didn’t come to a complete halt after taking the U-turn on the runway and before initiating take-off (I came to know later that the procedure is necessary).

And finally, why would I not judge you when I saw your crew helpless and unprepared for such a situation? Afterall you were the captain of that ship?

So, I would just like to suggest to you, humbly, to write a letter stating the facts. I hope you realise that all the passengers saw death in front of them under your command.

I just hope a thorough investigation reveals what transpired in the cockpit. And if it is proved that you did your best, no one would be happier than me.

That day, I will find you and give you my thanks.

Last edited by GTO : 9th January 2017 at 13:35. Reason: Adding your pics. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 8th January 2017, 18:18   #2
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Default re: A trip I'd like to forget: Onboard the Jet Airways flight that skidded off a runway

Reading your account of the events gave me the shivers. Nothing I have faced even comes close to this. I am not going to offer the obvious bits of advice but I hope that in time you get over the trauma (mild PTSD?) and think of this as a bit of bad luck that you had one morning.
The attitude of the airline is typical and something I have seen since my early days of flying Indian Airlines in the '80s. It's a pity things haven't changed that much even after decades.
The pilot's open letter essentially says: I know so much more than you so you are not allowed to blame me.

Last edited by Roy.S : 8th January 2017 at 18:20. Reason: Adding a point
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Old 8th January 2017, 18:30   #3
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Default re: A trip I'd like to forget: Onboard the Jet Airways flight that skidded off a runway

For those who have not read this :

http://www.zeebiz.com/companies/news...ff-runway-9846

Last edited by condor : 8th January 2017 at 18:33.
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Old 8th January 2017, 21:57   #4
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Default re: A trip I'd like to forget: Onboard the Jet Airways flight that skidded off a runway

1lokesh, first we are relieved you and the other pax are safe and alive thanks to your own presence of mind and the Armed forces personnel who got cracking. The panicked crying behavior of the cabin crew reflects poor training. The letter written by this unknown (can be only one of two!) Jet Airways pilot reflects immaturity that is worrisome. I don't want to comment on who or what is at fault till an investigation is completed. But unless one engine or wing controls misbehaved or a landing gear gave serious trouble or the airport was experiencing very very strong cross winds a 60 tonne aircraft would not of its own accord veer off the runway. His letter is talking of a lot of horse manure as you can guess. An aircraft is designed and a pilot is trained to land and take off from wet runways, cross winds, etc. This sounds like the car equivalent of parking on a slope, forgetting to apply the hand brake and the car rolls off into a ditch. This chap is an insult to the aviation fraternity. I am going to send this letter to the DGCA in case they have not noticed it.

Last edited by V.Narayan : 8th January 2017 at 22:00.
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Old 8th January 2017, 23:50   #5
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Default re: A trip I'd like to forget: Onboard the Jet Airways flight that skidded off a runway

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1lokesh View Post
...I've reproduced here the first person account of a traumatized passenger of the ill fated flight 9W2374 from Goa to Mumbai on 27-Dec-2016...
Very happy that you didn't have any injuries and also no fatalities. And you seem much more cool headed than most of the officials too. High regards for your presence of mind and helping the ones in need.


Thank you for sharing the incident with us. It's disgusting to read how people "celebrate" accidents and other wrong stuffs for getting some "likes"& "shares". They'd rather click and shoot pics & videos rather than help people in need.
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Old 9th January 2017, 00:27   #6
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Default re: A trip I'd like to forget: Onboard the Jet Airways flight that skidded off a runway

Happy to know that you are safe.

Horrified to know that passengers evacuated from doors without slides, falling 8 feet onto stones. Horrified to hear how long it was before any help at all reached you.
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Old 9th January 2017, 00:57   #7
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Default re: A trip I'd like to forget: Onboard the Jet Airways flight that skidded off a runway

Really sorry to hear about your ordeal, but glad you came you unscathed.

Whatever doesn't kill you make you stronger brother.

As for the pilot. He is a complete and utter idiot.

I am quoting him : To be honest it's disgusting - flying this kind of passenger and taking responsibility for his life for however long it may be.

Please Mr. Pilot. Quit. Take up teaching, writing poetry. We, the passenger will not miss you. You are not doing us a favor by doing your job.
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Old 9th January 2017, 01:28   #8
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Default re: A trip I'd like to forget: Onboard the Jet Airways flight that skidded off a runway

Kudos to you and everyone else who kept a calm head in the situation.

Looking at the (not really) amusing side of the situation, now I guess we know why they insist we pay attention to the safety demo.

"We don't know jack, so you better become an expert at safe evacuations by watching this 30 second demo we're forced to parrot".

Accidents happen for lots of reasons, but cabin crew being grossly unprepared is unacceptable. DGCA need to take a hard look at themselves, because they're responsible ultimately as the governing and certifying authority.

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Old 9th January 2017, 08:23   #9
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Thank god no lives were lost. As for the pilot I guess we will leave it for the investigating authorities to come up with the truth. Nevertheless he seems to be stupid personally to have written in his defense and the stupidness of his poetry.
The lack of training for the cabin crew surely has shown up. More importantly the airport's response teams seemed to have failed totally. The saving grace being the Navy as it is a naval airport.

An ambulance not arriving for 25 mins is pure lack of response. The 108 service would have got here if someone called.
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Old 9th January 2017, 10:58   #10
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Default re: A trip I'd like to forget: Onboard the Jet Airways flight that skidded off a runway

1lokesh, Really sorry to hear such a horrifying experience. I presume that you have a lot more to contribute to this earth and hence you have survived.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AbhiJ View Post

Please Mr. Pilot. Quit. Take up teaching, writing poetry. We, the passenger will not miss you. You are not doing us a favor by doing your job.
These kinds of people who do not have the courage to take responsibility will spoil the country whichever job they take up. If he takes up teaching, I cannot imagine, how many more irresponsible citizens, he creates for future. I am yet to figure out, where these kinds of people really fit in.
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Old 9th January 2017, 11:17   #11
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Default re: A trip I'd like to forget: Onboard the Jet Airways flight that skidded off a runway

Firstly you are safe, that counts the most.

Pathetic the way the situation was handled. Shows how prepared were the ground/airport staff were in case of an emergency. Jet airways less said the better.

PS: It would be interesting to see what caused this. Hope the information will be out post the investigation.

Last edited by nkrishnap : 9th January 2017 at 11:22.
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Old 9th January 2017, 12:38   #12
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Default re: A trip I'd like to forget: Onboard the Jet Airways flight that skidded off a runway

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1lokesh View Post
I've reproduced here the first person account of a traumatized passenger of the ill fated flight 9W2374 from Goa to Mumbai on 27-Dec-2016, which I wrote for an online publication 'dailyO'.
Absolutely horrible experience and really glad you came out unscathed though some others were not so fortunate. What really bothers me is the fact that the Air hostesses themselves were not prepared for such an emergency situation and these are the very people who "guide" us as to what to do in an emergency situation. Speak of Irony!

Again ambulances not being there sooner and Jet airways not really looking at the customers once in terminal is really pathetic to say the least.

The so called open letter seems to be from some pilot who probably is frustrated at pilots being blamed for every aviation mishap but then that's the downside of being a pilot. They are responsible for the lives of all people on board and that is why they get paid 100x/1000x equivalent of what a vehicle driver does on ground because at the end of the day, they drive people from one place to another but with an elevated risk involved.

Also why should I or anyone as a passenger be bothered about all those technical terms he's thrown in his letter? Isn't that the reason why we pay him to be bothered about all those things? His letter seems nothing but very naive, immature and idiotic.

Last edited by centaur : 9th January 2017 at 12:42.
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Old 9th January 2017, 13:00   #13
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Default re: A trip I'd like to forget: Onboard the Jet Airways flight that skidded off a runway

The less said about Jet airways the better. Though my experience is no where compared to what you faced, but speaks volumes about the training imparted to their inflight and ground crews.

My experience with Jet in 2016 is posted in this post.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-...ml#post4061182 (A YetiGuide® to Airlines, Airports and Domestic Air Travel)

Regards
Dieseltuned
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Old 9th January 2017, 13:05   #14
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Default re: A trip I'd like to forget: Onboard the Jet Airways flight that skidded off a runway

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thad E Ginathom View Post
Happy to know that you are safe.

Horrified to know that passengers evacuated from doors without slides, falling 8 feet onto stones. Horrified to hear how long it was before any help at all reached you.
Over wing exists of single aisle aircraft, as far as i know, don't have chutes/slides. You open the door, step on the wing and jump/slide down. Thats the process. It is a bit of a drop and won't be easy for everyone but it is the way the aircraft is designed and not the airline's fault.

I am really surprised at the pilot's letter and even more surprised that there is no action (for the letter, not the accident) from Jet airways as he is abusing the passengers in general. He might not be responsible for the accident (investigation will tell) but crossed all limits in abusing the travel public in the way he did. Shame on you Jet.
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Old 9th January 2017, 13:20   #15
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Default re: A trip I'd like to forget: Onboard the Jet Airways flight that skidded off a runway

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mohan Mathew A View Post
Over wing exists of single aisle aircraft, as far as i know, don't have chutes/slides. You open the door, step on the wing and jump/slide down. Thats the process. It is a bit of a drop and won't be easy for everyone but it is the way the aircraft is designed and not the airline's fault.
But doesn't that leave at least four exits that do have slides? So why, in these circumstances, would they use the ones that don't?

I can suggest an answer to my own question: that an 8-foor drop and a broken leg is better than being burned to death in a flash fire. Is this the reasoning?

I wish one or more of our pilot members would give their comments on this, and explain what should be done in such circumstances, and what we, as passengers are best advised to do.
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