Wednesday, July 06, 2022

After 8 Incidents In 18 Days, SpiceJet Gets Government Notice On Safety

New Delhi: An unusually high number of incidents involving SpiceJet aircraft has prompted the aviation regulator to seek an explanation from the airline. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation, or DGCA, has pointed out big gaps on how the airline is functioning, from operating flights with "degraded safety margins", issues that point at "poor internal safety oversight" to vendors not being paid on time, leading to shortage of spare parts for the SpiceJet fleet.

The government's notice said SpiceJet is operating its fleet on MEL, or Minimum Equipment List, which means the aircraft are considered safe to fly but not all systems are necessarily operational.

Yesterday, a SpiceJet cargo plane flying to China returned to Kolkata after its weather radar stopped working. It was the eighth incident of technical malfunction on a SpiceJet aircraft in the last 18 days.

"...It has been observed that at number of occasions, the aircraft either turned back to its originating station or continued landing at the destination with degraded safety margins," the DGCA said in the notice.

"The (DGCA) review transpires that poor internal safety oversight and inadequate maintenance actions (as most of the incidents are related to either component failure or system related failure) has resulted in degradation of safety margins," the aviation regulator said.

"Financial assessment carried out by DGCA in September 2021 has also revealed that airline is operating on cash and carry and suppliers/approved vendors are not being paid on regular basis, leading to shortage of spares..." it said. "...It may be deduced that SpiceJet Ltd has failed to establish a safe, efficient and reliable air services," the DGCA said.

Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya M Scindia also tweeted a copy of the DGCA notice. "Passenger safety is paramount. Even the smallest error hindering safety will be thoroughly investigated and course-corrected," he said.

Some of the recent incidents involving SpiceJet aircraft are:

May 4: Chennai-Durgapur aircraft turned back after one of its engines had to be shut down mid-air due to oil filter warning.

May 28: Mumbai-Gorakhpur flight returned to base after its windshield cracked at 23,000 feet.

June 19: Jabalpur-bound plane returned to Delhi after cabin pressure did not build up with the gain in altitude.

June 19: Patna-Delhi aircraft made emergency landing after its engine caught fire due to a bird hit soon after take-off.

July 2: Jabalpur-bound aircraft returned to Delhi after smoke was seen in cabin.

July 5: Kandla-Mumbai flight landed at Mumbai airport after the aircraft's windshield cracked.

July 5: Delhi-Dubai aircraft diverted to Karachi after fuel indicator started malfunctioning.

July 5: Cargo plane to China turned back to Kolkata after weather radar failed.

06/07/22 NDTV

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