Highlights

  • SpiceJet in eye of storm after multiple flights faced technical issues
  • Indian aviation sector saw a similar spate of incidents in 2018-19
  • Airbus A320neo planes with P&W engines had suffered malfunctions

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​Dozens of engine failures in Indian planes: a look at past air scares amid SpiceJet cases

In 2018-19, engine failures plagued Airbus A320neo aircraft with Pratt & Whitney engines which were part of the IndiGo and GoAir fleets.

A plane's engine caught fire during take-off. In another flight, smoke filled the cabin while it was in the air. Even more cases of cracks in windshields, malfunctioning equipment, and radars not working. With 8 such cases in just 18 days, SpiceJet's bad streak has caused alarm among flight passengers.

The first case was reported on 19 June when a bird hit caused an engine fire in a Patna-to-Delhi flight. The plane had to do an emergency landing in Patna soon after take-off. On the same day, a Delhi-Jabalpur flight faced cabin pressurisation issues, and had to return.

Then, on 24 June, a fuselage door warning lit up in a Guwahati-Kolkata flight soon after take-off, and the journey was abandoned. The next day, the same issue occurred in a Patna-Guwahati flight, and the plane stopped midway in its take-off roll.

On 2 July, smoke was seen in a Delhi-Jabalpur flight while it was at an altitude of around 5,000 feet. The plane had to return to the national capital. Then, on 5 July, a Delhi-to-Dubai flight had to be diverted to Karachi in Pakistan due to a malfunctioning fuel indicator.

On the same day, a SpiceJet flight did an emergency landing in Mumbai due to cracks in its windshield at an altitude of 23,000 feet. Yet another incident took place on the same day, with a SpiceJet freighter aircraft headed to China returning to Kolkata as its weather radar was not working.

5 July was a scary day, with flights of other airlines also facing issues. A Vistara plane suffered engine failure after landing in Delhi from Bangkok. Also, an IndiGo Raipur-to-Indore flight had a problem of smoke in the cabin after landing.

India's aviation sector had seen a similar spate of incidents a few years ago. In 2018-19, engine failures plagued certain planes of IndiGo and GoAir. Airbus A320neo aircraft with Pratt & Whitney engines had faced technical difficulties. IndiGo reportedly saw over 20 instances of engine malfunctions over the course of a few months. In March 2018, India's civil aviation regulator DGCA had grounded over 10 such aircraft.

After the latest spate of incidents, the DGCA sent a show-cause notice to SpiceJet, saying that the airline failed to "establish safe, efficient, and reliable air services". Commenting on the notice, SpiceJet's CMD said that the incidents reported were minor in nature and not unique, but the airline will be "doubly careful".

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