Smoke rising from the wheels of an IndiGo flight after it landed at the Delhi airport led to a fire scare and an emergency evacuation of 147 passengers on Wednesday afternoon. While no one was seriously injured, a few passengers received minor injuries during the evacuation process, officials said.
IndiGo flight 6E-176 took off from Thiruvananthapuram and touched down in Mumbai at 12.40 pm. From there, it took off for Delhi at 1.30 pm with 147 passengers, including one infant and six crew members. The incident was reported at 3.35 pm, when the flight had already made a “normal” landing at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.
Sasi Kumar, Chief Engineer with the infrastructure division of the HHL Lifecare Limited who had flown down from Thiruvananthapuram to Mumbai on Wednesday morning and boarded the Delhi-bound IndiGo flight, said, “I was sitting on seat 8A and I had a clear view of the wings. I saw smoke billowing from below and it got more dense with every passing second. I thought the engine had caught fire. However, I overheard one of the crew members saying it was because of problem in the braking system during landing. The flight crew then announced that there was a problem and we were asked to evacuate from the six emergency exits. That is when everybody began panicking.”
As the airplane approached Runway 27 at the Delhi Airport for landing, the captain of the flight was informed by Air Traffic Control (ATC) about dense smoke emanating from the aircraft. The aircraft was taken to the taxiway and the emergency paraphernalia was put in place.
Officials said around three fire tenders rushed to the spot. The aircraft’s crew deployed the emergency “side slide chutes” to allow the 147 passengers to evacuate.
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Officials said at least eight passengers received “minor” injuries during the evacuation process, and were given first aid at the airport.
“Most of us were injured mildly when we slid down the chutes during the evacuation process and hit the ground. I have pain in my back and a few abrasions on my hands. But around five elderly persons were hurt a little seriously. The IndiGo crew, however, were very prompt with the evacuation and first-aid. They took us to Terminal 1 where we were given first aid and refreshments and our luggage was brought to us,” Kumar said.
Aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), and IndiGo Airlines have launched an inquiry into the incident. An airline official said preliminary probe suggested that smoke had emanated from the left brake assembly of the aircraft’s landing gear. IndiGo Airlines, however, maintained there was “no fire and this was not an emergency or priority landing”.
“The evacuation was done on taxiway after landing the aircraft safely. All the passengers were evacuated by all the right-hand side slide-chute and one left-hand side slide chute in approximately 75 seconds. We confirm that all passengers and crew members are safe. Some of the passengers who suffered minor injuries during evacuation were given medical attention,” an IndiGo spokesperson said.
“We have received no complaint so far and no FIR has been registered. There was no imminent danger or an imminent fire as such. However, the matter is under investigation,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Airports) M I Haider said.