SpiceJet's Dubai to Madurai service is airline's latest plane to suffer malfunction

Investigation launched by regulator after ninth incident since May

A SpiceJet flight made an emergency landing at the Patna airport in India on Sunday after a bird hit it. Photo: Boeing
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Passengers on board a SpiceJet service from Dubai to Madurai, India, had to swap planes on Monday after a problem was discovered with the landing gear.

A recovery aircraft was sent to the UAE to collect passengers disembarking the Boeing-737 Max operated by the Indian budget airline.

The airline said a potential problem with the nose wheel was spotted by ground engineers before take-off.

The aircraft had earlier arrived in Dubai from Mangalore. Those on board were returned to Tamil Nadu on the replacement aircraft, also a Boeing-737 Max.

A standard investigation has been opened by the India's aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

“SpiceJet flight SG23 operating from Dubai to Madurai was delayed due to a last minute technical issue,” a representative for the airline said.

“Alternate aircraft was arranged immediately which brought passengers back to India. Flight delays can happen with any airline.

“There has been no incident or a safety scare on this flight.

“After the minor technical issue was resolved, the first aircraft flew back to India as a commercial flight.”

It was the ninth technical issue recorded by the airline on passenger aircraft since May 1.

On July 5, a SpiceJet flight from Kandla to Mumbai arrived in India safely, shortly after pilots reported a cracked windscreen at 23,000 feet and requested a priority landing.

That same day, a suspected fuel leak occurred on a flight near Karachi, while three days earlier, smoke was reported in the cabin of a SpiceJet Dash 8 aircraft.

On June 19, pilots on a SpiceJet operated Boeing 738 at Patna reported a bird strike and another cracked windscreen was recorded on a flight near Mumbai on May 28.

An unexpected engine shutdown caused problems on a SpiceJet flight near Chennai on May 3, the same day that a take-off was aborted in Mumbai due to engine failure.

Two days earlier, passengers and crew were injured when a SpiceJet flight at Andal in West Bengal suffered turbulence.

Earlier this month, a freighter aircraft operated by the airline that was en route to Chongqing, China, returned to Kolkata after pilots realised shortly after take-off that their weather radar was not showing any data.

SpiceJet, India's third largest operator behind IndiGo and Air India, has since received a show-cause notice from the DGCA over its failure to establish safe, efficient and reliable air services.

A financial assessment by the DGCA in September 2021 found the airline was not paying its approved vendors and suppliers on time, leading to a shortage of spare parts and frequent invoking of minimum equipment lists required to operate.

The airline was hit hard financially when it was forced to ground its fleet of 13 Boeing 737 Max aircraft as a result of an investigation by the manufacturer into safety issues.

Updated: July 12, 2022, 2:51 PM