Tail-strikes ground SpiceJet aircraft
A SpiceJet aircraft has been grounded by the civil aviation safety regulator -the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) - after the plane's belly was severely damaged in a tail-strike.
A tail-strike is when the tail portion of the aircraft touches the runway first during landing or touches the ground due to high nose altitude during take-off.
The tail-strike took place on July 19 when the aircraft, a Boeing 737-900 ER (call sign VTSPU), landed at the Guwahati airport. The DGCA has initiated a high-level inquiry into the incident - fourth such involving the same plane.
"We have grounded the pilot also," a DGCA official said.
The earlier tail-strikes took place on February 7 and 19 this year in Bagdogra and Delhi and August 12, 2008 in Bangalore.
"A series of tail strikes is a clear indication that there is something wrong in the training as well as the procedures that are followed," said Capt Mohan Ranganathan, member of a government committee on air safety.
"It is also a reflection on the inexperience of not just the pilots but the training team for not emphasising on the correct techniques to follow," he said.
SpiceJet confirmed that damage was caused to the aircraft but no passenger was injured.
"SpiceJet takes safety very seriously and ensures all action is taken to avoid future occurrences of this nature," the airline said in an e-mail response to Hindustan Times.
"Tail strike at the time of take off or landing point on this aircraft type does occasionally happen according to Boeing. That is why it is fitted with a tail skid to avoid damage. This aircraft has done 6000 flights since the first incident," SpiceJet said.