An Indian aircraft had to make a priority landing at the Mumbai airport after its outer windshield cracked during flight on Tuesday.
This was the airline’s second such incident in a single day, leading to concerns about the safety of passengers.
The flight from Gujarat’s Kandala to Mumbai was at an altitude of 23,000ft on Tuesday afternoon when the outer pane of the cockpit windshield on the co-pilot’s side developed a crack, India’s aviation regulator said.
The airline, SpiceJet, said cabin pressure was unaffected on the Bombardier Q400 aircraft (VT-SUV) after the incident and all passengers deboarded safely.
“On July 5, 2022, SpiceJet Q400 aircraft was operating SG 3324 (Kandla-Mumbai). During cruise at FL230, P2 side windshield outer pane cracked. Pressurization was observed to be normal. The aircraft landed safely in Mumbai,” SpiceJet said in a statement.
This was the seventh instance in the last 17 days when a SpiceJet flight suffered technical glitches, causing alarm among flyers and raising scrutiny from federal aviation regulators.
The crew initially observed an unusual reduction in the fuel quantity from the left tank, which continued to decrease, leading to suspicions of a fuel leak, officials from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said.
The airline said no emergency was declared and the aircraft made a normal landing but a replacement plane was sent to Karachi to take off with 138 passengers to Dubai.
The passengers were stranded in Karachi for nearly 11 hours, according to NDTV.
The Indian aviation regulator is likely to summon SpiceJet’s top officials to flag concerns after a rise in air safety incidents, a senior DGCA official told the Indian Express.
The low-cost airline is incurring steep losses and high fuel prices have made the situation even worse for the budget carrier. It is also battling court cases, including an alleged fraud case against its promoter Ajay Singh.
On 2 July, a Delhi-Jabalpur SpiceJet flight had to return to Delhi airport to make an emergency landing after smoke in the aircraft filled the passenger cabin and the lavatory smoke alarm went off. A “May Day” call was declared to the air traffic control and the flight landed safely with passengers.
On Tuesday, after the emergency landing in Pakistan, the company’s stock fell 2.33 per cent. SpiceJet shares have continued to tank in the financial year 2022-2, falling over 30 per cent.
In a response to The Independent, a SpiceJet spokesperson said: “Most of these recent incidents are isolated in nature based on the initial investigation and do not indicate a specific maintenance issue within the fleet.”
“As per regulations, investigations are being carried out. Any findings and conclusions from such investigations are shared with company stakeholders and the regulator. We are committed to ensuring a safe operation for our passengers and crew. All our aircraft were audited a month ago by the regulator and found to be safe.”