CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Sci-Tech

Plane hits buffalo during takeoff

COO of Indian airline SpiceJet says it's inexcusable that a buffalo was allowed to wander onto a runway at Surat airport.

spicejet.jpg
A buffalo can cause considerable damage to a plane. SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images

Safety on airlines has improved enormously over the years.

However, there are certain elements, sometimes enormous ones, that still need careful consideration. Large animals on the runway, for example.

A SpiceJet Boeing 737-800 aircraft was performing its takeoff roll at Surat airport in India, north of Mumbai, on Thursday when it struck -- of all things -- a buffalo, reported the BBC.

The plane's captain reported that the buffalo was set against a black background, and therefore invisible. No passengers or crew were hurt in the accident, reported the BBC, though the buffalo died.

How is it, though, that a substantial animal could have wandered onto airport grounds?

SpiceJet's Chief Operating Officer Sanjiv Kapoor took to Twitter to announce that his airline, the fourth largest in India, is suspending all flights out of Surat.

He also took the opportunity to express his indignation that his airline's security was compromised by what seemed a blatant lack of security on the part of the airport.

He offered a series of tweets, among which was: "A buffalo on the runway at night at Surat airport. Simply inexcusable."

In response to comments on Twitter, which attempted to equate the buffalo hit with a bird strike, Kapoor tweeted: "Bird hit is different from buffalo hit. Buffalos don't fly over airport perimeter walls."

When asked whether an airport vehicle had checked the runway before takeoff, he replied: "Only the investigation will tell us."

Kapoor insisted, though, that no one required medical attention "except a coroner for the buffalo, perhaps." The aircraft was damaged and taken out of service. Passengers were flown to Delhi on another plane.

The airport's director, Dr. SD Sharma, told the Times of India: "The passengers had a miraculous escape. There was no breakdown of the engine or other technical fault. The aircraft hit with a stray animal during takeoff."

New Delhi Television reported that the airport has only been operational for a couple of years. One would have thought, though, that adequate fencing might have been a priority for the airport's future success.