DGCA begins investigation after Alliance Air’s ATR aircraft departs without engine cover

An Alliance Air flight from Mumbai to Bhuj, carrying 70 passengers, flew without engine cover that was later retrieved from the runway at the city airport on Wednesday, February 9 prompting aviation regulator DGCA to start a probe into the incident, according to an official.

The ATR aircraft landed safely at Bhuj in Gujarat. Alliance Air said that it has initiated a probe into the incident.

The incident happened on Wednesday, February 9 morning and was brought to the notice of airport authorities by a Mumbai Air Traffic Controller (ATC). Subsequently, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) started an investigation into the incident.

DGCA begins investigation after Alliance Air’s ATR aircraft departs without engine cover

“Mumbai ATC informed the airport that Alliance Air ATR aircraft, operating flight 91-625 (Mumbai-Bhuj) took off without the left engine cowling (cover),” the official said. Later, the airline’s engineering team reached the site and retrieved the engine cover from the runway.

During the operation of Alliance Air flight 9I-625 from Mumbai to Bhuj on February 9, the panel of the engine cowl was found on the runway post take off, Alliance Air said in a statement.

“We have taken strict note of the incident and a thorough investigation has been initiated. The findings of the same shall be shared with the regulatory authorities and we shall ensure that all required corrective actions are put in place,” the government-owned airline said.

Flying without engine cowling may have an aerodynamic effect leading to marginal deterioration in the aircraft’s performance.

It also said that “we are grateful that all passengers and crew onboard the flight safely landed and there was no damage to the aircraft due to this unfortunate incident. Expressing “regret” at the “unfortunate” incident, Alliance Air said, it follows laid down policies/ procedures as per the regulatory authorities.

The airline has strict checks in place both pre and post-flight operations to ensure the complete safety of its passengers and crew, Alliance Air said in the statement.

Flying without engine cowling may have an aerodynamic effect leading to marginal deterioration in the aircraft’s performance, the official said. No one has been grounded so far but appropriate action will be taken after DGCA receives the preliminary report.

The Incident was brought to the notice of airport authorities by a Mumbai Air Traffic Controller.

Besides, it could have an impact on engine components as well because of the exposure to the airflow, the official said, adding that, however, in this case, the aircraft landed safely at the destination.

The Mumbai Air Traffic Control (ATC) had contacted the pilots of the Alliance Air flight, which flew from Mumbai to Bhuj without its engine cover, whether an object had fallen off the aircraft after its take-off from the airport in Maharashtra capital, an official here said.

As per the preliminary reports, the pilots did not realise that the cowl (cover) of one of the engines had fallen on the runway in Mumbai as they told the ATC that everything was fine, the official said.

“After spotting some object on the runway, the Mumbai ATC contacted the pilots of the Bhuj-bound flight and asked if something had fallen off the aircraft. However, the pilots said everything was alright. Later, the flight landed at Bhuj without any trouble. When it underwent routine supervision before the next flight, the maintenance staff learnt about the missing engine cowl.

While 66 passengers arrived in the flight in the morning, 61 passengers were supposed to take the same flight to Mumbai a few hours later. However, upon learning about the missing engine cover, the airline cancelled the return flight and began the maintenance work.”

Navneet Kumar Gupta, Airport Director, Bhuj Airport

The propeller-powered aircraft was carrying 66 passengers. It flew to Bhuj town from Mumbai without its engine cowl, a removable metal covering for the engine, which fell on the Mumbai airport’s runway during take-off, he said.

“Luckily, all the passengers and crew members are safe as the aircraft, which runs on propeller engines, landed without any trouble at the Bhuj airport,” said Gupta. After the incident, Alliance Air cancelled its return trip to Mumbai, he added.

The airport director said that as per the primary reports he has received, the pilots were not aware that a section of the engine’s cowl had fallen during the take-off.

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