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An Air India Airbus A321-200, registration VT-PPU performing flight AI-852 from Pune to Delhi (India) with 180 people on board, was accelerating for takeoff from Pune's runway 10 when the crew spotted a jeep and a person on the runway and initiated rotation of the aircraft prematurely at about 130 knots over ground. The aircraft's tail contacted the runway surface, the aircraft climbed out safely, the crew climbed the aircraft to FL330 and continued to Delhi, where the aircraft landed safely on runway 29 about 110 minutes after departure. Ground staff inspecting the aircraft found damage to the tail skin, maintenance subsequently established also structural damage to fuselage frames.

India's DGCA have opened an investigation into the occurence, both pilots have been de-rostered until the end of the investigation. The DGCA states it is unclear why the crew continued the flight to Delhi, the probe will focus also onto whether the crew was aware of the extent of the damage the fuselage received and whether a tail strike sensor was installed and operative on the aircraft. The black boxes were secured and are being read out.

India's Air Force confirmed during the morning hours a service vehicle had been cleared for a routine task on Pune's runway, the service vehicle was near the runway forcing the A321 to rotate earlier than planned. The aircraft continued to Delhi for a safe landing. The Air Force is conducting an investigation, too.

The tail damage:




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