Spicejet mid-air turbulence – here’s what is known so far

The SpiceJet plane, SG-945, was attempting a landing at Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport in West Bengal’s Durgapur when it encountered a storm, locally known as Kalbaisakhi. The oxygen masks dropped and luggage fell out of the overhead bins on the passengers, injuring several.

India’s aviation regulator DGCA today said it has constituted a multidisciplinary team to probe the severe turbulence incident on SpiceJet’s Mumbai-Durgapur flight that left 15 people injured on May 1.

The aircraft took off from Mumbai a few minutes after 5 PM on Sunday, May 1 and was on its approach to Durgapur’s Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport after a two-hour flight when it encountered severe turbulence that caused the passenger injuries.

The 189-seater aircraft, however, landed safely at Durgapur at 7:15 PM, following which the injured passengers were provided medical attention. It was not just the passengers but also some cabin crew members who suffered injuries. These people received head and spinal injuries.

“We have deputed a multidisciplinary team to carry out a regulatory investigation (into this incident),” DGCA chief Arun Kumar told PTI.

SpiceJet clarified that the seat belt sign was on and multiple announcements were made by crew members asking passengers to remain seated.

SpiceJet spokesperson said, “Eleven passengers travelling on SpiceJet flight SG-945 from Mumbai to Durgapur on May 1, which encountered severe turbulence during descent which unfortunately resulted in injuries to a few passengers, were hospitalised.”

A total of 15 people — 12 passengers and three cabin crew members — were injured in this flight due to severe turbulence, according to DGCA officials. Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said the matter is being “dealt with utmost seriousness and deftness”.

“The turbulence encountered by a flight while landing in Durgapur, and the damage caused to the passengers is unfortunate. The DGCA has deputed a team to investigate the incident. The matter is being dealt with utmost seriousness and deftness. More details on the cause(s) will be shared once the investigation is completed (sic),” Scindia tweeted.

However, there is no confirmation whether the Air Traffic Controller or the pilot flying the aircraft were informed of the storm. An enquiry into the matter is underway.

As a standard practice, the investigation will focus on a number of factors to ascertain why it was that the incident caused severe injuries to the passengers.

These include the weather conditions when the plane encountered turbulence, whether or not the pilots were caught unprepared when they encountered the turbulence and whether they asked the cabin to prepare for incoming disturbances to the flight.

Notably, the passenger charter of rights issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in 2019, says that for domestic travel, in case of death or bodily injury to a passenger on-board an aircraft, the airline is liable to pay up to INR 20 lakh per passenger.

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