LONDON – This week, a SpiceJet Q400 aircraft operating on a regional flight from Goa was forced to make an emergency landing at Hyderabad airport, following the observation of smoke in the cabin.
The incident occurred on Wednesday night October 12, and involved a SpiceJet Q400 regional commuter aircraft registered VT-SQB. The aircraft made a landing at Hyderabad airport around 11.000pm local time.
The 86 passengers onboard were disembarked via the emergency exit with one passenger reportedly suffering minor scratches on the feet sustained during the disembarkation procedure.
No other injuries have been reported, and the Indian civil aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is investigating the cause of the smoke in the aircraft cabin.
It is understood that as many as nine inbound flights were diverted as a result of the incident.
SpiceJet have recently come under the scrutiny of the DGCA, following a string of operational incidents. The regulator recently placed the airline under restrictions which included a cap on its operations; effectively limiting the airline to 50% of its total flight capacity until October 29.
In July, the DGCA issued the Indian low-cost carrier with a ‘Show Cause’ notice following a string of reported technical malfunctions. The official notice, which came after eight reported incidents in 10 weeks, stated: “SpiceJet has failed to establish safe, efficient and reliable air services under Aircraft Rules, 1937.”
A possible connecting link arises from the fact that the low-cost airline was apparently struggling with liquidity issues, having been placed on a ‘cash only’ basis with many of its suppliers in 2021.
With respect to maintenance, this potential means that the airline operates its fleet with some non-essential maintenance items unattended to – essentially flying legally on a Minimum Equipment List which outlines the minimum essential/serviceable items.
It is unclear at this stage whether Wednesday’s incident will result in further restrictions or an extension of the movement cap period, which is due to finish at the end of this month.
Acknowledging the Wednesday night incident at Hyderabad airport, a spokesman for SpiceJet stated: “SpiceJet Q400 aircraft operating from Goa to Hyderabad landed safely at its destination on October 12 after smoke was observed in the cabin during descent. Passengers were safely disembarked.”
Hyderabad Airport, in the Indian state of Telangana, is one of the airline’s bases.
SpiceJet is an Indian budget airline headquartered in Gurgaon, Haryana. It is the second largest airline in the country by number of domestic passengers carried, with a market share of 13.6% as of March 2019.
The airline operates 630 daily flights to 64 destinations, including 54 Indian and 15 international destinations from its bases at Delhi and Hyderabad.