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‘Smoke in cabin, cracked windshield’ — SpiceJet sees nearly 15 air safety incidents in 10 months

A low-cost airline, SpiceJet flies on 250 routes, has 214 daily passenger flights, 145 cargo destinations and possesses a fleet size of around 100 planes.

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New Delhi: Days after SpiceJet’s Delhi-Jabalpur flight returned to the national capital after crew members noticed smoke in the cabin, Tuesday saw two more air-safety incidents involving India’s third largest airline.

While a Delhi-Dubai flight had to make an emergency landing in Karachi after developing a technical fault, another SpiceJet Q400 aircraft flying from Kandla in Gujarat to Mumbai made a priority landing after one of its windshields cracked. Pressurisation inside the aircraft was observed to be normal, according to an airline spokesperson.

A ‘low-cost airline’, SpiceJet flies on 250 routes, including 38 international ones, has 214 daily passenger flights, 145 cargo destinations (including 93 international) and possesses a fleet size of almost 100 airplanes. Yet it is not best known for its safety.

Elaborating on the incidents that took place Tuesday, a SpiceJet spokesperson told ThePrint, “The SpiceJet B737 aircraft operating flight SG-11 (Delhi-Dubai) was diverted to Karachi due to an indicator light malfunctioning. The aircraft landed safely at Karachi and passengers were safely disembarked. No emergency was declared and the aircraft made a normal landing.”

“There was no earlier report of any malfunction with the aircraft. Passengers have been served refreshments,” the spokesperson added. A replacement aircraft was later sent to Karachi to fly the passengers to Dubai.

There have been at least 15 air-safety incidents involving SpiceJet that were reported in the past 10 months. ThePrint takes a look at them.

ThePrint reached SpiceJet for a comment on the multiple air-safety incidents over the last couple of months through calls, texts and email but there was no response till the time of publishing this report.

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2 July

The most recent incident took place when crew members observed smoke in the cabin of a Delhi-Jabalpur SpiceJet flight, at an altitude of around 5,000 feet. This was the fifth such incident in two weeks. The SpiceJet Q400 aircraft operating as SG-2962 returned to Delhi later. All passengers were reported safe.

19 June

With 185 passengers onboard, a SpiceJet Boeing 737 returned to Patna for an emergency landing, minutes after taking off, after one of the engines reportedly caught fire. The engine had shut down mid-air after a ‘bird-hit’, according to a Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) official.

19 June

The same day, the Delhi-Jabalpur flight (SG 2962) returned to the national capital after the aircraft failed to regain cabin pressure differential even after attaining a height of 6,000 ft. This means the difference between the pressure inside the cabin and outside the aircraft did not build with rising altitude, which it is supposed to.

24 & 25 June

In two separate incidents, the fuselage door warnings had lit up on SpiceJet planes while taking off. It forced the pilots to abandon their journeys and return. A probe was ordered by the DGCA.

1 May

A SpiceJet Boeing B737-800 aircraft operating as flight SG-945 between Mumbai and Durgapur witnessed severe turbulence while descending in Durgapur. The incident resulted in the injury of 11 people, two of whom were admitted to the ICU. A probe was ordered by the DGCA. SpiceJet was later quoted by the ANI as saying, “The cabin crew and cockpit crew of SpiceJet SG- 945 will not be placed for aircraft duties, till the pending investigation.”

3 May

A SpiceJet Boeing 737-Max aircraft, flying from Chennai to Durgapur, returned to the Chennai airport due to a “technical issue” mid-air. DGCA had to ground the aircraft after the incident.

28 May

A Mumbai-Gorakhpur SpiceJet flight returned to Mumbai after a crack was observed in the aircraft’s windshield after taking off. “During cruise, the windshield outer pane was observed to be cracked,” said a SpiceJet spokesperson.

28 March

Before SpiceJet flight SG160 from Delhi to Jammu was about to fly, the aircraft hit a lightning pole at the Delhi airport after being pushed back from the parking position to be ready for take off. None of the passengers were injured but the plane was damaged.

30 December, 2021

A SpiceJet flight from Rajkot to Delhi had taken off without mandatory clearance from the Air traffic Controller (ATC). An aircraft needs to take multiple permissions before taking off. An investigation was ordered by the DGCA.

9 December, 2021

A Boeing Co.737 Max operating between Mumbai and Kolkata had to return to Mumbai barely 15 mins after take off. Pilots of the aircraft had to shut down an engine due to a technical issue. According to Arun Kumar, director general, DGCA, the crew shut down the second engine after an “oil filter bypass light got illuminated in cruise.”

25 October, 2021

While they had the approval to land on runway number 26, pilots of a Hyderabad-Belgaum SpiceJet flight landed on runway number 8, resulting in a serious breach of security.

7 September, 2021

An international SpiceJet flight took off from Chennai and landed at Victoria Seychelles International Airport safely. However, the pilots landed the Boeing 737-8SH before the threshold – a runway marking that shows the designated space stipulated for landing.

Some of these incidents also involve Boeing 737 MAX which had received clearance from the DGCA in August 2021, after being grounded worldwide since March 2019 following many deaths in multiple plane crashes.

In May last year, SpiceJet claimed to be “amongst India’s leading and most preferred low-cost airline”, holding a domestic market share in the airline industry of 9.4 per cent. Its market share was third highest in the country after IndiGo and Air India, as of May 2021.

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