A bird hit the engine of the flight that made emergency landing in Patna today, damaging three of its fan blades, said a SpiceJet official as he shared details of what happened when one of its engines caught fire.
There was no indication of the engine fire in the cockpit and it was noticed only by people on the ground and the Air Traffic Control (ATC), Captain Gurcharan Arora, Chief of Flight Operations, SpiceJet told NDTV.
The Delhi-bound flight was carrying 185 passengers and all of them were evacuated safely, officials said earlier. Videos shot by locals on the ground showed sparks coming out from its left engine.
Sharing the details of what happened during and after the bird hit, the official said, “there was a normal take-off. There was no cockpit indication. Shortly after that they got a call from the ATC saying they have detected smoke and flames from the left engine (engine number 1).”
As is the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in such events, Captain Arora said the “pilots announce a “pan-pan”, which is telling the world something is not okay, and run through a checklist.” “And step by step, you shut down the suspect engine and then you land ASAP (As Soon As Practical) at the nearest airport,” he said. And that is exactly what the pilots did.
Bird hits are regular feature and a Occur every month on various airplanes, the official further stated. “Usually, bird hits occur in the airframe. So, there’s a small thud and no damage to the engine. Passenger airplanes are today made to withstand a lot of beating, they are very rugged and reliable – the airframe as well as the engine. So normally you wouldn’t even get to know about it,” he said.
However, in today’s incident, it was different.
“Today was different because the bird hit was directly into the engine. Three fan blades were damaged. It resulted in smoke and flames. There was no indication in the cockpits which is a testimony to how rugged the engines are. They were running absolutely smoothly,” he said.
The official added that even after airplanes lose an engine, they can safely fly for up to three hours with a single engine, but regulations mandate that they land in 60 minutes.