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Durgapur flight turbulence: DGCA begins inspection of entire SpiceJet aircraft fleet

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New Delhi, May 2: India's aviation regulator DGCA on Monday announced that it is carrying out an inspection of the entire SpiceJet aircraft fleet after its Mumbai-Durgapur plane ran into a severe turbulence leading to injuries to 17 people, two of whom were in ICU.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) also took off the roster the flight's crew, aircraft maintenance engineer (AME) and in-charge of SpiceJet's maintenance control centre, pending a probe. At present, the aircraft that was involved in the incident on Sunday is grounded in Kolkata, the DGCA said.

Durgapur flight turbulence: DGCA begins inspection of entire SpiceJet aircraft fleet

The rest of the SpiceJet aircraft fleet are in operation. SpiceJet has 91 aircraft in its fleet, according to its website. On Sunday, the Mumbai-Durgapur flight encountered a severe turbulence during its descent phase, injuring 14 passengers and three cabin crew members, the DGCA said in a statement. Two of the injured passengers -- one with head injury and another with spinal injury -- are in intensive care unit (ICU) right now, it mentioned.

"The DGCA has off-rostered the involved crew, the AME...and in-charge of Maintenance Control Centre of SpiceJet pending investigation," it said. "The involved aircraft is at present grounded in Kolkata. As a regulatory measure, DGCA is carrying out inspection of SpiceJet aircraft across the fleet," it added.

Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said, "The turbulence encountered by a flight while landing in Durgapur, and the damage caused to the passengers is unfortunate. The DGCA has deputed a team to investigate the incident." The matter is being dealt with utmost seriousness and deftness, he said. "More details on the cause(s) will be shared once the investigation is completed," Scindia noted. There were 195 people, including two pilots and four cabin crew members, on board the Mumbai-Durgapur flight, the DGCA mentioned. The plane took off from the Mumbai airport at approximately 5.13 PM on Sunday, it said.

"During descent, the aircraft experienced severe turbulence and the vertical load factor varied from +2.64G and -1.36G. During this period, the autopilot got disengaged for two minutes and the crew manually flew the aircraft," it mentioned. The pilots reported to Durgapur ATC (air traffic controller) that a few passengers were injured due to turbulence and requested for medical assistance after landing. The injuries to 14 passengers and three cabin crew members were related to head, spine, shoulder, forehead and facial injuries, the DGCA said, adding that at present three passengers were hospitalised.

Due to severe turbulence, the oxygen panels opened up and oxygen masks dropped in the plane, it said. "Damage has occurred to a few seat hand rest and overhead decorative panel. One cabin overhead bin (hatrack) lock was found broken," it mentioned. "The galley items were seen strewn across on the floor. Same was the condition in the aisle. The airline after inspection positioned the aircraft in Kolkata," it said. The DGCA said it has instituted a multidisciplinary team to probe the severe turbulence incident. DGCA chief Arun Kumar told PTI, "We have deputed a multidisciplinary team to carry out regulatory investigation (into this incident)."

On Monday, SpiceJet spokesperson said, "Eleven passengers travelling on SpiceJet flight SG-945 from Mumbai to Durgapur on May 1, which encountered severe turbulence during descent which unfortunately resulted in injuries to a few passengers, were hospitalised."

Eight of those hospitalised have been discharged so far, the spokesperson said. The spokesperson said it is providing all possible help to the injured. "The seat belt sign was on when the aircraft encountered turbulence. Multiple announcements were made by the pilots and the crew instructed passengers to remain seated and keep their seat belt fastened," the spokesperson mentioned.

Due to severe turbulence, injuries were caused to a few passengers, the spokesperson noted. "Timely medical assistance was provided upon arrival," the spokesperson added. In March this year, SpiceJet was the third largest domestic airline in the country in terms of passenger market, according to DGCA data. SpiceJet carried 10.21 lakh passengers on its domestic flights in March. IndiGo -- India's largest carrier -- carried 58.61 lakh passengers in March, a 54.8 per cent share of the domestic market, the data mentioned. PTI

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