SpiceJet Boeing 737 pilot faces suspension after turbulence injures passengers


India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has suspended a SpiceJet pilot’s license following an investigation into a severe turbulence incident. The incident happened on May 1, 2022 and injured 15 on board, including passengers and cabin crew. Two passengers were seriously injured and were placed in intensive care units (ICU).

SpiceJet flight SG 945 was traveling from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (BOM) in Mumbai to Durgapur Airport (RDP) in the eastern state of West Bengal. Most of the flight was uneventful, but the Boeing 737-800 encountered severe turbulence about 30 minutes before landing. Initial reports suggested the plane failed to avoid bad weather on its flight path.

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In addition to the injured on board, the aircraft cabin was also beaten. Data from Flightradar24 shows that the aircraft made only one 20-minute flight per day after the incident before being grounded for a further three days.

License suspended

The DGCA has suspended the captain’s license (PIC) of the flight in question. It was reported that the SpiceJet plane flew straight in bad weather instead of circling like all other planes. According to new developments, the PIC ignored the suggestion of his co-pilot, who advised him to go around the bad pass.

Immediately after the incident, both pilots were removed from flying duties, while a few maintenance personnel who had cleared the aircraft for its next flight were also suspended. The aircraft had several broken components in the passenger cabin as a direct result of the incident. According to the ANI news agency, the Boeing 737 experienced forces of between +2.46G and -1.36G during the turbulence.

The PIC’s license has been suspended for a period of six months following a thorough investigation into the incident. Simple Flying has contacted the Indian low-cost carrier for comment on the matter. This article will be updated with the response.

SpiceJet has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons, the most common of which are flight safety issues. As Simple Flying reported last month, India’s regulator warned the airline against frequent use of MELs (minimum equipment list) and forced it to cut operations in half. Most of SpiceJet’s problems stem from the financial difficulties it has experienced in recent months.

The Boeing 737 operating flight SG 945 had unreliable weather radar. Photo:
Akshay Mantri

For this reason, the logical first step for authorities investigating the Durgapur incident would be to look at the aircraft’s weather radar. And bingo! The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau of India (AAIB) found that the pilots flying the aircraft prior to the flight in question had experienced and reported reliability issues with the weather radar.

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