The Mumbai newspaper Mid Day reports that Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan was among the 207 passengers who had a close shave with death while aboard the British Airways Airbus craft, as the pilot made the emergency landing at Mumbai airport.
There was fuel left in the plane for only five minutes, as the pilot made the landing bringing Saif and others back from the jaws of death.
An hour and 10 minutes after takeoff from Sahar International airport, the plane made the emergency landing. A source close to Saif said, "It was quite scary as the aircraft was shaking. Saif was upset and the moment the plane landed, he called up Kareena to assure her he was fine."
Saif's partner with his production house, Illuminati Films, Dinesh Vijan, played down the incident. "Saif is now fine and left for London yesterday on an afternoon flight on British Airways”.
The fire in the Airbus 747-400 began 15 minutes after it took off at 3 am, when it was flying at a height of 33,000 ft above MSL, still under the surveillance of the Mumbai ATC.
"Normally, when there is a situation that warrants an emergency landing, the pilot decides to jettison enough fuel to lighten the aircraft. The quantity of fuel is only enough for the aircraft to remain in air for an hour," said A K Saxena, a retired Indian Air Force sergeant.
The plane made an emergency landing at 4.10 am, leaving it with fuel for just five minutes.
British Airways refused to disclose how much fuel was left in the plane and who were the passengers in the plane, the newspaper said.
An ATC official added, "This type of situation is always a challenge for both the ATC and the pilot when the fuel is being jettisoned and landing is delayed."
ATC general manager M G Jhungare said, "Any flight at this height will take at least 45 minutes to one hour for landing."
Saif refused to talk about it on phone from London.
There had been several crises involving aircraft in air:
On August 6, 2005: Tuninter Flight 1153 crash-landed in the sea 18 miles off the Sicilian coast while on a flight from the Italian town of Bari to Djerba in Tunisia. The aircraft was carrying 39 passengers and crew, 16 of whom died. The fuel indicator was reading incorrectly and the crew did not detect that the aircraft was running low on fuel. The airline was banned from flying into Italy for under two years.
On January 15 this year, a US Airways flight was forced to land in the Hudson river, New York, after a collilsion with a flock of geese caused the plane's engines to fail. All crew and 155 passengers on board survived.
On April 7, Denver-bound Southwest Airlines Flight 1245 had to make an emergency landing in Tampa, Florida, when flight crew spotted smoke in the cabin. Passengers had to alight on emergency slides.
On April 9, a Falcon aircraft carrying Sonia Gandhi and P Chidambaram from Bangalore to Coimbatore had to make an emergency landing when it faced technical problems.