Mumbai: An IndiGo aircraft flying on the Delhi-Ahmedabad route on 1 January had to make a priority landing at Ahmedabad after cabin crew detected an unusual smell, adding to the growing number of safety lapses recorded in Indian skies.

According to a person aware of the matter, who didn’t want to be named, IndiGo flight 6E 6373, an Airbus A320 plane, was filled with smoke in the cockpit and cabin, which led to pilots issuing a “PAN-PAN" mid-air call, following which the aircraft made a priority landing.

PAN-PAN is an international standard signal to warn of an urgent situation.

The last year, marked by several mid-air incidents, wasn’t exactly a smooth ride for Indian flyers. While IndiGo and GoAir were asked by DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) to ground planes due to engine issues, a forgetful act by Jet Airways pilots, who failed to turn off the switch to regulate cabin pressure, resulted in some passengers bleeding from their noses and ears.

In October, an Air India Express flight, travelling from Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu to Dubai with 136 people on-board, flew with a ripped underbelly for about three hours after hitting a wall, with its pilots unaware of the damage the Boeing 737 jet had suffered. The plane was eventually asked to come back and land in Mumbai.

Since December 2018, market leader IndiGo has had as many as five mid-air glitches.

A second person familiar with the matter said the incident on the IndiGo Delhi-Ahmedabad flight was not the result of a snag in Pratt & Whitney engines that have led to the airline grounding some of its fleet last year. (read more)

When contacted, IndiGo didn’t elaborate on the issues that led to the pilots issuing a PAN-PAN call mid-air.

The airline said in a statement that while in-flight crew noticed an unusual smell, the event had no operational impact on the airline. “On ground it was noted that it was a minor technical glitch which was rectified before the next flight," it said.

IndiGo had 43% of the domestic market share in November.

In a similar incident in December, an Indigo Airbus A320neo aircraft, operating between Jaipur and Kolkata, had to make an emergency landing due to smoke filling up the cabin and cockpit. While the latest smoke scare was not due to a glitch in the Pratt & Whitney engines, the incident in December was due to such engine issues.

Close