DGCA issues show cause notice to SpiceJet after repeated midair emergencies

BL New Delhi Bureau | Updated on: Jul 06, 2022

| Photo Credit: AMIT DAVE

Civil Aviation Minister says passenger safety is paramount as he shares DGCA’s notice on social media

New Delhi, July 6 A day after two SpiceJet passenger flights faced mid-air emergencies and a third flight - a freighter - experienced a technical snag, the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday issued a show cause notice to the airline, raising concerns over “degradation of safety margins” of its aircraft.

So far there have been eight safety related incidents with SpiceJet in a span of 18 days.

In a scathing observation, the country’s civil aviation regulator held that “SpiceJet has failed to establish safe, efficient and reliable air services under the Aircraft Rules, 1937”.

A special audit carried out into the airlines’ finances in September last year found that component suppliers were not being paid on a regular basis, leading to a shortage of spare parts.

The airline has been operating in the cash-and-carry mode, which implies that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has withdrawn credit facility to the airline because it could not clear its dues. It has to pay cash upfront to use the airports. Cash and carry status implies financial stress for the airline.

The DGCA in its showcause notice has further noted that from April 1, there have been “a number of occasions” when aircraft either returned to their originating station or “continued landing at the destination with degraded safety margins”.

“The review shows poor internal safety oversight and inadequate maintenance actions (as most of the incidents are related to either component or system related failure) have resulted in degradation of safety margins,” it observed.

SpiceJet has three weeks to respond to the DGCA notice, failing which the “matter will be carried out exparte”.

Aviation Minister reacts

Sharing the notice issued by DGCA, Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia wrote on Twitter that “passenger safety is paramount”.

“Even the smallest error hindering safety will be thoroughly investigated & course-corrected,” he wrote on the micro-blogging site.

Past incidents

On Tuesday, July 5, there were three incidents with SpiceJet aircrafts. The last incident was when its Boeing 737 freighter (cargo aircraft) – scheduled on the Kolkata to China route – had to return to Kolkata on account of a technical snag, in which the aircraft’s weather radar stopped working.

Earlier in the day, a SpiceJet flight on the Delhi–Dubai route made a “normal landing” at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, following a malfunction in its indicator light. Later in the day, the outer windshield on a Kandla–Mumbai flight cracked when the flight was cruising at an altitude of 23,000 ft.

Previously in July, a Delhi–Jabalpur flight returned to Delhi after crew observed smoke in the cabin at around 5,000 ft.

Fuselage door warnings lit up on two separate SpiceJet planes while taking off on June 24 and June 25, forcing them to abandon their journey.

In June 19, an engine on a Delhi-bound aircraft carrying 185 passengers caught fire soon after take-off from Patna. The plane made an emergency landing minutes later. The engine malfunctioned because of a bird hit. On the same day, another flight for Jabalpur had to return to Delhi due to cabin pressure issues.

SpiceJet responds

SpiceJet in a statement said, it was in receipt of the DGCA notice and “will respond within the specified time period”. “We are committed to ensuring a safe operation for our passengers and crew,” the company spokesperson said.

According to the spokesperson, the airline is IATA - IOSA certified.

“SpiceJet succesfully completed a meticulous audit program for recertification in Octber 2021. We have been regularly audited by DGCA. All our aircraft were audited a month ago by the regulator and found to be safe. All flights of SpiceJet are conducted in compliance with the regulations of the DGCA Civil Aviation Regulations on the subject,” the spokesperson said.

More incidents reported

On July 5, two other airlines reported techinical snags.

Smoke was detected in the cabin of a Raipur-Indore IndiGo flight after landing. There were no reports of any injuries and passengers disembarked safely. The DGCA is probing the matter.

The engine of a Vistara aircraft failed after the plane landed at Delhi from Bangkok. It had to be towed from the taxiway to the parking area. All the passengers are safe, sources said. The incident occurred when the Bangkok-Delhi flight (UK-122) landed at Delhi airport on a single-engine. The decision to tow the aircraft to the parking bay was taken keeping in mind the safety of passengers on-board.

Published on July 06, 2022
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