How Captain Nawshad’s skills saved 149 passengers, 7 crew members in 2016
Captain Nawshad Ataul Quaiyum, the Biman Bangladesh Airlines pilot who passed away today after suffering a heart attack mid-flight on Friday, was responsible for saving the lives of 149 passengers on December 22, 2016.
His skill, technical expertise and bravery allowed him to conduct an emergency landing of a Muscat-Chattogram flight at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) in Dhaka after a tyre of the plane's left landing gear had burst moments before takeoff.
All 149 passengers and seven crew members were evacuated safely.
Authorities of HSIA had to keep its lone runway shut for over two hours, for which three international and three domestic flights had to be diverted to Kolkata, Mandalay in Myanmar, Chattogram and Jashore.
After Captain Nawshad landed the aircraft on a single tyre of the left gear, the tyre burst moments before the plane came to a stop on the runway, AM Mosaddique Ahmed, then managing director of Biman, told The Daily Star.
The Boeing 737 has three landing gears with two tyres in each.
Speaking after the incident, Captain Nawshad said before the landing, he flew in circles to burn fuel and reduce weight to make way for takeoff and landing of some flights.
Soon after the flight took off from Muscat Airport, he had heard a loud noise and contacted the control tower personnel at Muscat airport, who informed Capt Nawshad about the blow-out of the aircraft's tyre.
Captain Nawshad also said he was informed that some parts of the damaged tyre were found on the runway in Muscat.
He had then decided to land in Dhaka instead of Chattogram because of the better facilities for an emergency landing at the capital's airport.
"Before landing, I made a low-level flyby twice so that officials of Air Traffic Control at the Dhaka Airport could see whether the single tyre had burst," he also said.
Finally, he landed the plane successfully at 10:07am on December 22.
Several fire engines and ambulances were kept ready at the airport. Buses were kept on standby near the runway. Cold air was blown on the damaged tyre after the aircraft fully stopped.
International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations, the global body of professional pilots, gave Captain Nawshad a letter of appreciation after the incident.