IN SEPARATE incidents, two SpiceJet planes returned to their home airports shortly after takeoff on Sunday, with one hit by a bird in Patna and the other from Delhi facing a technical problem that led to a “cabin pressurization problem”. In a third incident, an IndiGo plane turned back to Guwahati minutes after takeoff due to a bird strike.

All three incidents will be reviewed by aviation safety regulator DGCA.

A Delhi-bound Boeing 737-800 operated by the Gurugram-based low-cost airline made an emergency landing in Patna on Sunday afternoon, minutes after takeoff, after one of its engines failed. hit by a bird. The plane was carrying 185 passengers and six crew members.

A senior government official said the pilots suspected a bird had hit the left engine during takeoff, but they continued to climb. Cabin crew later informed the pilot-in-command that he had witnessed sparks coming from the engine, following which the pilots shut down the power plant and initiated an emergency landing, said the manager.

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“During the rotation (takeoff), the cockpit crew suspected a bird strike on engine n°1 (left engine). As the crew did not observe any anomalies, the aircraft continued its rise,” he said.

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“Subsequently, the cabin crew informed the pilots of the sparks coming from the engine… The crew declared PAN-PAN and decided to return to Patna. ATC was informed of the same and the plane landed safely in Patna without injury to crew or passengers,” the official said.

The PAN-PAN message is signaled by the flight deck crew to state that they have an urgent situation but which does not present an immediate danger to anyone’s life or to the aircraft itself.


Monsoon Threat

Aviation authorities have ranked bird strikes among their highest safety priorities. The problem arises all the more during the monsoons when the presence of insects in open areas, such as aerodromes, attracts birds.

Onlookers near Patna airport reported seeing black smoke coming from the plane’s left engine as it returned.

In a statement, a SpiceJet spokesperson said: “On takeoff, during the rotation, the flight deck crew suspected that a bird had hit the #1 engine. As a precaution and in accordance with SOPs, the master shut down the affected engine and decided to return to Patna. The plane landed safely in Patna and the passengers were safely disembarked. Post-flight inspection showed one bird had been hit with 3 damaged fan blades. »

Earlier on Sunday, another SpiceJet aircraft, a Bombardier Q400 Dash 8, developed a cabin pressurization issue after departing Delhi. As the plane exited Delhi, the pilots noticed that cabin pressure did not build up with altitude gain. Following this, the crew decided to return and the plane landed safely in Delhi.

This model of aircraft typically flies at around 20,000 feet, and since atmospheric pressure decreases at higher altitudes, aircraft are designed to artificially increase cabin pressure in the same way as at lower altitudes .

Commenting on the incident, a SpiceJet spokesperson said: “On June 19, the SpiceJet Q400 aircraft was operating SG-2962 (Delhi-Jabalpur). During the initial climb, the crew observed that the cabin pressure differential did not accumulate with increasing cabin altitude. The airplane leveled off at 6000 ft. Pressurization is not restored. PIC (Captain) decided to return to Delhi. The plane landed safely in Delhi.

During the IndiGo incident, a government official said the left engine of the Airbus A320neo was damaged after it was hit by a bird while at an altitude of 1,600ft after takeoff for Delhi. “The engine was shut down and the aircraft returned to Guwahati,” the official said.

Confirming the incident, IndiGo said in a statement: “IndiGo Airbus A320neo (VT-ITB) operating flight 6E 6394 from Guwahati-Delhi returned to Guwahati Airport, due to a suspected bird strike after take-off All passengers were accommodated on another flight to Delhi The aircraft is grounded for necessary inspections.

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