Unwelcomed guests are always a nuisance, especially when they overstay. For 24 years, the Nagpur airport had an unwelcomed guest in the form of an airplane, a Boeing 720, that landed because of an emergency in its engine in 1991 but never flew out. The Boeing 720, that had flown for many airlines commercially until reaching private hands, has an interesting story behind it.
How it all started?
A Boeing 720 arrived at Nagpur Airport on July 21, 1991. The plane sought emergency landing authorization owing to engine problems, which was granted. The aircraft was operating as a private jet at the time, owned by the Continental Aviation Private Limited (CAPL).
Typically, such a landing would be accompanied by the dispatch of a repair crew to identify and resolve engine problems. This, unfortunately, does not appear to have occurred. Instead, the 720 was abandoned near Nagpur Airport's runway. The plane's presence lingered for months, then years, and it hadn't moved by 2015.
The plane was stranded in Nagpur because the owner was no more interested in returning to his old airplane. Parking fines were soon piling up as well, but because CAPL refused to pay, the case was taken to the Mumbai High Court.
The Boeing 720 was stranded at Nagpur Airport due to a legal dispute. As air traffic increased in the ensuing decades, the plane's position became an increasing problem. The plane was moved barely 90 metres away from the runway in 1993, considerably closer than the 150-meter minimum established for obstacles near the runway. The distance is specified to guarantee that any plane that deviates from the runway does not collide with a major object, posing a serious hazard.
As per TOI, following numerous warnings from the DGCA, the owners of Nagpur Airport declined to relocate the jet to a different place. It took until July 2011, when the DGCA attempted to revoke the airport's license, for the plane to be moved 600 meters away from the runway. The plane was owned by a US-based NRI Sam Verma.
However, it was not until 2015 that Nagpur Airport finally took the long-overdue step of moving the plane from its grounds. The new airport director decided to ultimately relocate the plane and finished the task in only 30 minutes.
The 720 flew from the airport to the Nagpur Flying Club on September 29th. After 24 years of sitting on the ground and endangering airport operations, all it needed was a new pair of tyres to tow the aircraft to its new home.