Close to 160 passengers on board a Jet Airways flight from Riyadh to Mumbai had a narrow escape on Monday after the plane’s left engine caught fire soon after it landed at the Mumbai airport.
Though nobody on board the flight was hurt, the incident grounded flight movement at the city airport for about 11 minutes as the aircraft blocked a taxiway that runs parallel to the main runway.
Around 5:47am, after the plane had landed, an airport follow-me jeep saw smoke coming from the aircraft’s left engine and reported the matter to the air traffic control (ATC) tower.
Following the standard operating procedure, the ATC officials directed the Jet cockpit crew to switch off all the engines and cabin lights, a precautionary measure to prevent the fire from spreading.
Meanwhile, fire tenders and a team of airport doctors reached the spot.
“It took our fire tenders three minutes to douse the fire,” said a Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) spokesperson. Although doctors were kept at standby, their services were not needed, the spokesperson said.
A Jet Airways spokesperson confirmed the incident. “Jet Airways flight 9W 523 Riyadh-Mumbai was advised by the ATC of slight presence of smoke in one of the engines while it was taxiing. The cockpit crew then proceeded to bring the aircraft to the assigned bay and deplaned the passengers safely,” said the spokesperson.
Airport officials said that since the rescue operation did not take more than a few minutes, there was no passenger panic on board. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) ordered an inquiry into the incident.
In August 2010, 15 passengers travelling on a Jet Airways flight to Chennai from Mumbai were injured during a fire evacuation owing to panic and mismanagement. The aviation regulator’s probe later found there was no fire on the aircraft.