Mumbai: 141 SpiceJet passengers caught in mid-air scare

Aircraft’s hydraulic system fails after it runs into high turbulence; passengers panic

Passengers of SpiceJet flight SG 152 held onto their dear lives for nearly 30 minutes mid-air as the aircraft ran into high turbulence on Saturday, barely 15 minutes after takeoff. The Mumbai-Guwahati via Delhi flight was routed back to Mumbai.

Dipti Kharude and Rony D'Costa
Dipti Kharude and Rony D'Costa

The plane took off at 7.50 am from Mumbai — its standard time of departure is 7.30 am. Its hydraulic system took a hit soon after it ran into turbulence. The pilot of the Airbus 319 craft then declared a full emergency. As the air traffic controller at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport received the distress signal, airport officials put the standard operating procedure in force — keeping fire engineers and ambulances on standby.

The aircraft had 141 passengers, including two infants, and seven crew members. As the flight made a safe landing in Mumbai at 8.25 am, its terrified passengers counted their blessings.

Rony D’Costa, one of the passengers, says most flyers were befuddled when the crew asked them to put on their life jackets. “When some people asked for help to put it on, the crew members curtly told us that they had explained the procedure before the flight had commenced.” He alleged that the passengers were told nothing except that the flight was making an emergency landing.

Dipti Kharude, who accompanied D’Costa, said the crew mismanaged the situation, which sparked panic among passengers. Other passengers said the lack of clarity aggravated the situation; most kept wondering whether the flight was landing back in Mumbai or in water.

D’Costa and Kharude, who were bound for Uttarakhand, have got a refund on their ticket and will fly on Sunday.

Airport officials said the aircraft was changed and it reached Guwahati six hours later.

Procedures followed: Airline
A SpiceJet spokesperson said, “The aircraft made a safe landing while following all emergency procedures. Passengers were provided with alternative flight options.”

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