The aviation safety regulator has begun a probe in the mid-air snag that forced diversion of a Mangalore-bound Air India Express flight to Mumbai on Saturday.
The flight carrying more than 100 passengers from Bahrain made a precautionary stopover in the city after the pilots detected some snag in the plane’s left engine.
According to the preliminary investigation by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) there was severe oil leakage from the aircraft’s left engine.
“It is a serious matter. We will probe whether the aircraft was thoroughly checked before it took off from Bahrain,” said a senior DGCA official requesting anonymity.
Sources added that pilots, cabin crew and engine crew could be called in for questioning at the regulator’s office later this week.
The regulator’s team will also probe whether the pilots’ distress call met the requirements of the standard operating procedure for such mid-air scares.
Oil leak from the engine is a serious complaint, according to DGCA officials. The pilots sought permission to land on priority under “local standby” conditions.
Local standby is the lowest level of emergency preparedness for an airfield. In such a situation, emergency services such as fire tenders, airport medical units and safety officers are alerted about a suspected snag-hit aircraft but they are not summoned close to the airstrip.
“In case of such snags the pilots should switch off the snag-hit engine and land on single engine. The DGCA guidelines state that single engine The pilots, however, requested for “local standby” conditions, which necessitate the lowest level of emergency preparedness before a distress landing.
landings should be treat as “full emergency”,” said former Airbus commander requesting anonymity.
Full emergency is the highest alert level wherein safety services are deployed next to the airstrip for a snag-hit aircraft making touchdown.
Independent air safety experts had recently raised concern about the high rate of mid-air snags in Indian skies.
According to the DGCA’s latest data, close to 50% domestic flights in the country were cancelled owing to technical snags.