In what is at least the fifth air safety incident involving a SpiceJet aircraft in the last two months, a Jabalpur-bound flight operated by the low-cost carrier on a Bombardier Q400 Dash 8 plane made an emergency landing in New Delhi Saturday morning after smoke was noticed in the cabin.
The aircraft took off from Delhi early Saturday and while passing 5,000 feet, the crew noticed smoke in the cabin along with the lavatory smoke alarm going off, a top official at India’s aviation safety regulator DGCA said. “Cabin crew informed the cockpit crew of mild smoke in the cabin, but on visual check, no sign of smoke or damage was observed in the lavatory,” the official added.
Later, when passing 14,000 feet, more smoke was seen in the cabin and the same was conveyed to the pilots, who levelled the aircraft at 15,000 feet and initiated a turn-back to Delhi, the official said, adding that a “MAYDAY” call was declared to the air traffic control.
The aircraft landed safely in Delhi few minutes after 7 am and all passengers were evacuated on the taxiway.
In a statement, a SpiceJet spokesperson said: “On July 2, 2022, SpiceJet Q400 aircraft was operating SG-2962 (Delhi-Jabalpur). While passing 5000ft, the crew noticed smoke in the cabin. The pilots decided to return back to Delhi. Aircraft landed safely at Delhi and passengers were safely disembarked.”
This is at least the fifth air safety incident faced by the airline in the last two months. On June 19, two SpiceJet incidents were reported — one involving a bird hit on a Boeing 737-operated Patna-Delhi flight, in which the pilots landed back safely at Patna after an engine shut down, and two another Bombardier Q400 Dash 8 plane from Delhi to Jabalpur that had to make an emergency landing in Delhi after cabin pressure in the plane did not build up in line with the altitude gain.
Prior to this, on May 4, a SpiceJet-operated Boeing 737 MAX plane from Chennai to Durgapur made an air turn-back after one of its engines had to be shut down mid-air as a result of an oil filter warning. Just days before this incident, a SpiceJet Boeing 737 aircraft from Mumbai to Durgapur flew into severe turbulence shortly before landing that led to several passengers being severely injured.
This is in addition to DGCA intervening with SpiceJet’s simulator training program for the Boeing 737 MAX plane, where it was found that the airline continued to train its pilots on a simulator with known equipment faults.
Following the Mumbai-Durgapur incident, where the damaged aircraft that had witnessed severe turbulence, was allowed to takeoff from Durgapur, the DGCA had ordered a check of all SpiceJet planes.