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Bird hit or technical fault? What led to mid-air fire on SpiceJet plane?

Updated on Jun 19, 2022 02:23 PM IST
The plane - a fully-fuelled Boeing 737-800 - took off around noon from Patna airport and was to reach Delhi at 1.30 pm.
FILE PHOTO: A SpiceJet passenger Boeing 737-800 aircraft takes off from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel international airport in Ahmedabad, India May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Amit Dave(REUTERS)

A SpiceJet Patna-Delhi flight made an emergency landing at Patna's Jay Prakash Narayan International Airport on Sunday afternoon after a fire was reported on board. All passengers and crew - over 190 people in total, including two infants - are safe and no injuries have been reported.  The cause of the fire is not yet known - it is believed it was either due to a bird hit or a technical fault. 

Patna district magistrate Chandrashekhar Singh confirmed that the plane had landed safely 'after smoke was noticed from one of the left engines... possibly after a bird hit or a technical fault'.

READ: Fire on Patna-Delhi SpiceJet flight, plane makes emergency landing

When did the plane take-off?

The plane - a fully-fuelled Boeing 737-800 - took off around noon from Patna airport. It was scheduled to reach Delhi's Indira Gandhi airport at 1.30 pm.

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When was the fire noticed?

The fire was noticed when the aircraft was between the Khagaul and Phulwarisharif areas of Patna, which is two nautical miles (or six kilometres) from the airport. 

Locals in Pulwarisharif said they heard a loud sound after which they noticed smoke from one of the engines. 

A video circulated online showed the plane flying over a busy market junction (presumably in Patna) as it makes its emergency landing. 

Plumes of black smoke can be seen billowing from its rear as people cry out in panic, “It's going to crash… it's going to crash.”

READ: Watch | Smoke from Delhi-Patna SpiceJet flight in emergency landing

"I saw sparks flying from one of the engines below the left wing of the aircraft soon after the aircraft took off," Gaurav, a passenger, said.

What happened?

According to the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) a bird hit may have caused the fire in the plane's engine, but this has not yet been confirmed.

Bird hits are common as there is an open abattoir near the airport. 

The issue has been raised repeatedly with state government officials over the past few years but no action has been taken as yet, airlines officials said.

The reactions

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted immediately and accused the aviation ministry of playing with passengers' lives. "Repeatedly been raising this with the minister, with the aviation secretary. Don’t know when they will rise to the occasion and avoid a major mishap waiting to happen," she said.

Last month the DGCA imposed a fine of 10 lakh on SpiceJet for training its Boeing 737 Max aircraft's pilots on a faulty simulator.

 

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