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Spicejet asked to explain why plane was landed during turbulence

WHAT TO DO, WHEN... : IndiaTravelTimes does not guarantee the authenticity of the video (above) of the episode of the flight turbulence at Durgapur airport on May 1, yet this is being put out with a view to familiarising the ordinary fliers with such probabilities lest they are caught unawares and fail to react rationally to handle such terrible situations. The 'eternity' can last up to 15 minutes. Tighten your belts, believe in your pilot and shift your thoughts to reduce disabling anxieties! Rest assured, the aircraft can rock and fall but not more than a hundred feet anyway.

NEW DELHI, June 2: The Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has yet again issued one more show-cause notice to Spicejet on the episode of a severe turbulence that its Boeing aircraft faced while descending in bad weather at Durgapur airport on May 1 leading to severe injuries to 14 passengers.

After a month, in an afterthought, the regulator now asks the airline as to why it was decided to go ahead with landing despite the aircraft facing turbulence in the storm and rain.

The DG's office on Wednesday sought the explanation from the airliner within a fortnight, according to an HT report. A day after the incident it had issued a notice and the airline now claims it had replied to that and is asking why now after a month it is being served a showcause notice again.

Soon after the mishap an inquiry was also conducted. The DGCA had also off-rostered the involved crew, the aircraft maintenance engineer (AME) and in-charge of the maintenance control centre of SpiceJet.

However, it has also now come to light that the weather radar of the aircraft was not functioning properly and the bad weather could not be assessed.

In its preliminary probe report into the SpiceJet accident, DGCA later revealed that the flight was on "autopilot mode" when it faced turbulence and when the autopilot got disengaged for two minutes the crew manually flew the aircraft.

The airline said the seat belt sign was on and multiple announcements were made by crew members asking passengers to remain seated and fasten the seat belts during the turbulence to avoid injuries.

Well, it appears now that there is more to it than meets the eye.

The flight SG 945, which took off from Mumbai at 5.13 pm on May 1, had encountered severe turbulence in a storm and heavy rain during its descent at Durgapur airport at around 7.15 pm. It was a close shave for 190 passengers, two pilots and four cabin crew. The plane underwent three major jerks. Fourteen passengers suffered injuries due to the bumps and were taken to hospital on landing. A couple of passengers suffered serious head and spinal inuries, possibly hit by the roof. Some injuries were due to fall of cabin baggage from above. The oxygen panels opened up and oxygen masks fell off. A few seats were damaged as also overhead decorative panels. The aircraft landed safely at Durgapur. It was a Boeing 737-800, and not Max.

What is air turbulence?

Air turbulence is a disruption in the air current due to a storm or formation of air pockets (a place devoid of air) etc resulting in the plane suddenly rocking/shaking, jerking violently or free-falling in altitude temporarily. May be a hundred feet, and the turbulence can last 15 minutes. It does not lead to a crash, and it should not go into an aerodynamic stall, but serious injuries are possible. Fasten the seat belts. Middle seats in the rear are less vulnerable, a few rows nearer to exit, it is said. So also middle seats closer to the wings. There are different types of turbulence an aircraft may face. Usually jets fly high above these currents, yet a gust can catch up! Nights and mornings are clear and safer, pilots say. The aircraft, mind you, is made tough to withstand even more serious mishaps.

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