SpiceJet involved in two safety scares 

Expert blames airline for cutting corners, poor organisational culture

July 05, 2022 10:33 pm | Updated 10:33 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Dubai-bound SpiceJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft after its landing following a fuel indicator malfunction, at Karachi Airport on Tuesday, July 5, 2022.

Dubai-bound SpiceJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft after its landing following a fuel indicator malfunction, at Karachi Airport on Tuesday, July 5, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

A SpiceJet flight from Delhi to Dubai was diverted to Karachi on Tuesday after a snag resulted in an indicator displaying a drop in fuel levels.

The Boeing 737 aircraft took off from New Delhi at 7.40 a.m. and made a precautionary landing in Karachi two hours later after the pilots observed an unusual drop in fuel quantity from the left tank. After the flight landed, the post-flight inspection didn’t reveal a leak, and the indicator turned out to be a false alarm, an airline source said.

The passengers were safely disembarked, and a replacement aircraft sent to Karachi to enable passengers to complete their journey, an airline spokesperson said.

Later in the day, a SpiceJet Q400 aircraft flying from Kandla to Mumbai developed a crack on the outer windshield. 

The two incidents are the latest in a spate of safety scares involving SpiceJet, which include smoke inside passenger cabin last week, and pressurisation issues in an incident last month which can lead to drop in oxygen levels and hypoxia among passengers.

Another incident on May 1 resulted in at least two passengers being admitted to the intensive care unit due to to head and spine injuries. This was after the airline’s Boeing 737-800 aircraft with 189 passengers encountered turbulence while flying from Mumbai to Durgapur. This forced the DGCA to order a fleet-wide inspection of the airline after concerns that poor maintenance standards resulted in objects flying inside the passenger cabin and causing injuries. The DGCA inquiry found that one of the overhead bins had a broken lock and galley (food compartment) items were strewn across on the floor. 

Apart from safety mishaps, there have also been serious questions about the airline’s training practices. It was only in April that the DGCA barred 90 pilots of the airline to fly the Boeing 737 MAX 8 after it found that the airline continued to train them on a simulator with a faulty stick shaker (which warns a pilot of an imminent stall, or the plane falling, when there is a drastic reduction in a plane’s speed that gives it lift). The training was part of MAXs return to service after the aircraft type was grounded globally for over two years following two crashes that killed more than 300 people. Later, the DGCA imposed a fine of ₹10 lakh on the airline for the lapse.

The airline has also been faced repercussions due to its failure to make timely payments. On May 20, a large number of SpiceJet flights were delayed after they were stopped by the Air Traffic Controller over non-payment of daily user fee as the airline has been operating on cash and carry mode as the AAI has withdrawn its credit facility because of the airline’s inability to clear airport dues.

Aviation safety expert Amit Singh, who has served as the head of training at IndiGo and head of operations at AirAsia India, blames the organisational culture at SpiceJet.

“The airline forces its pilots to fly despite defects, and those pilots are not allowed to speak up and when they do, they are punished. There are also doubts over the competency of people holding senior and critical posts at the airline who turn a blind eye to all safety standards laid down by the regulator.”

He warns of a repeat of a Kingfisher Airlines-like debacle.

“When airlines are in distress they resort to cutting corners and compromising with safety. When Kingfisher folded up, one of the early signals was its inability to make payments to its various vendors such as hotels, etc. The DGCA too seems to be looking the other way. Why would special inspections be required if the regular audits the DGCA undertakes were carried out diligently and stringent measures taken thereafter. Why did it impose a penalty of only ₹10 lakh when the rules provide for a fine of ₹1 crore? Is there a cozy relationship between the regulator and the airlines,” asked Mr. Singh.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.