NEW DELHI: Saturday-Sunday midnight saw two international flights by Indian carriers — one by IndiGo and other of Air India Express — divert to a third country following suspected snags as a matter of abundant precaution.
An AI Express Boeing 737 (VT-AXX) took off from Calicut at 11.06 pm on Saturday as IX-355 for Dubai. During cruise burning smell was observed in the cabin. The crew checked but there was no smoke or fire. The pilots decided to divert to Muscat where it landed safely. Comments have been sought from IndiGo and are awaited.
An IndiGo flight took off from Sharjah at 11.02 pm on Saturday (all timings local) as 6E-1406 for Hyderabad. During cruise, pilots got indication of a snag warning for engine number 2. While, sources say, Airbus recommends that a diversion should be done only if this particular warning comes twice, the pilots of this Airbus A320 decided to divert to Karachi where it landed safely at 2.15 am Sunday.
This is the second diversion by an Indian carrier’s international flight to the Pakistani port city in a fortnight. On July 5, a SpiceJet Boeing 737 MAX operating from Delhi to Dubai with nearly 160 people on board had to divert to Karachi following a suspected fuel leak.
About the IndiGo suspected snag, sources say: “The pilots got an indication of a snag warning for engine number 2. Airbus bulletin prescribes that unless this particular warning recurs twice, an aircraft should not divert and continue to its destination. However as a matter of abundant precaution, the pilots decided to divert to Karachi.”
An IndiGo spokesperson said: “IndiGo flight 6E-1406, operating from Sharjah to Hyderabad, was diverted to Karachi. The pilot observed a technical defect. Necessary procedures were followed and as a precaution the aircraft was diverted to Karachi. An additional flight is being sent to Karachi to fly the passengers to Hyderabad.”
About the Air India Express snag, sources say burning smell came from a vent in the forward galley. The crew carried out the SOP for smoke, fire and fumes which were not observed and then diverted to Muscat s a precautionary measure where it safely landed.
“Post landing, engineering inspections were carried on the aircraft and the engines. No fumes or smoke was observed from either engine or auxiliary power unit (APU, which provides an aircraft with electric power to run systems and AC and for engine start without reliance on ground power unit). There was now no smell of fuel or oil. The problem was isolated to an oven in the forward galley that had been released under MEL (minimum equipment list, meaning a certain part will be repaired within a given time frame and during which the aircraft is safe to fly). This oven was deactivated and the aircraft flew o Dubai,” said sources.
Meanwhile, IndiGo’s midnight diversion was the second reported case of a suspected engine snag with the airline in as as many days amid an ongoing agitation by its aircraft maintenance technicians at Delhi and Hyderabad who are protesting poor pay. The technicians have even written to Airbus about the airline allegedly not following maintenance procedures. Its Delhi-Vadodara flight on July 14 had diverted to Jaipur as a precautionary measure following an engine snag. There were vibrations in the engines for a fraction of a second. The pilots decided to divert to Jaipur as a precautionary measure.