Mumbai air ambulance emergency landing: ‘I thanked god when I heard they landed safely’

CISF staffer who spotted air ambulance wheel falling off to get commendation and a cash reward.

“I was very tense those four hours, and prayed for them. Finally, someone told me they landed safely. I felt relieved and elated. I reached home and thanked god for saving their lives,” said Ravikant Avala, a head constable with the CISF, who from the watchtower spotted the wheel of the C 90 aircraft falling off as it flew out of Nagpur airport on Thursday evening.

The Beechcraft VT-JIL aircraft, belonging to Jet Serve Aviation, was operating as an air ambulance and transporting a patient from Bagdogra to Mumbai. It subsequently made an emergency landing at Mumbai airport after Avala informed the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) control room about the mishap.

It started like any other day for 48-year-old Avala, who was the only personnel posted in the watchtower that day. His duty was to keep an eye on the movement of people in and around the airport to ensure there is no breach of security.

Around 5.15 pm, the air ambulance, carrying two crew members, one patient, a relative and a doctor, flew from Nagpur airport. Avala said, “As part of my job, I was looking around to spot any security breach. As the flight started to take off, I noticed one of its wheels hanging. As it was flying off, the wheel fell off. I saw this and immediately alerted my seniors.”

Ravi Kumar, Deputy Commandant, CISF Nagpur unit, said, “After receiving the message from Avala, I alerted all concerned authorities at Mumbai and Aurangabad airport to ensure the aircraft makes a safe landing. I made all arrangements from our side at the Nagpur airport, in case the flight returned and tried to land here.”

After taking stock of the situation and communicating with the pilot, it was decided by aviation authorities to belly land the plane at CSMT airport. In the next three hours, the airport’s emergency response team, including fire and rescue responders, follow-me vehicles, CISF, medical team among many others were activated instantly and on standby to provide immediate assistance to ensure safe evacuation of passengers. As a precautionary measure, CSMIA foamed RWY 27 to prevent the aircraft from catching fire. Keshari Singh, the pilot of the air ambulance, was asked to land and he did it without anyone on board getting hurt.

“Subodh Jaiswal, Director General of CISF, announced a commendation disc (a medal), commendation certificate and reward of Rs 10,000 to Avala for his crucial observation. We praised and congratulated him for his effort,” said Kumar.

Avala said, “After the debriefing that night, my colleagues clapped for me and I felt honoured. It was the best day of my professional life.”

A native of Andhra Pradesh, Avala has been serving in the CISF for three decades and was posted at the Nagpur CISF unit since 2017.

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