A Delhi-bound Spicejet aircraft, carrying 185 passengers, made an emergency landing in Patna right after take-off as its left engine had caught fire following a bird hit, officials have said. Videos shot by locals on the ground show sparks coming out from the left engine.
All passengers were safely evacuated and there has been no report of any injury, officials said.
Sources at the aviation regulator DGCA have told NDTV that the pilots suspected there was a bird hit during the take-off. However, the aircraft continued to climb out since they did not observe any abnormality.
“The bird hit was directly into the engine. Three fan blades were damaged. It resulted in smoke and flames. But there was no indication in the cockpit,” Capt Gurcharan Arora, chief of flight operations at SpiceJet, told NDTV.
Subsequently, the pilots shut down the engine as per the procedure and requested an emergency landing.
Capt Arora refused to term it a “freak incident”, and highlighted that every year there are a few incidents like this all over the world. He also praised the pilots for the calm-headedness with which they handled the situation.
Cockpit crew of Patna-Delhi SpiceJet flight after take-off during rotation suspected bird hit on engine no. 1. As a precautionary measure, the flight captain shut down the affected engine and returned to Patna. Post-flight inspection shows bird hit with three fan blades damaged,” said a Spicejet spokesperson.
Some passengers said they felt tremors inside the plane soon after the take-off and the lights started turning off.
“We raised an alarm. The crew members then told us that an emergency landing was being made,” one of the passengers said.
The director of Patna airport said that SpiceJet has arranged an alternate flight for the passengers. “None of the passengers have been hurt. Their journey to Delhi is being arranged by an alternative aircraft. What caused the fire is a matter of investigation,” he said