The passenger on the IndiGo flight 6E2131 – which was grounded on Friday night at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport after sparks were noticed on the runway – who had tweeted a video of the sparks from inside the plane, told The Indian Express that for a few seconds when the fire broke out and was visible from the plane, the passengers on board felt ‘scared’ and ‘jittery’.
Recounting the incident on Saturday over the phone from Bengaluru, the passenger, requesting anonymity, said that the plane was on the runway and was about to take off in a few seconds when she saw sparks.
“I was recording a video of the take off since everything around was well lit up. Around 9.45 pm, just as the plane gained full speed and was about to take off, suddenly there were sparks and after many sparks, there was a huge flash/blaze of fire. The plane stopped on the runway. The halt was jerk free and the pilot informed the passengers that the flight had been halted due to a technical issue with the engine…,” she said.
“The fire was clearly visible to people sitting in rows behind the right wing of the plane. I do not know how many actually saw it at the time since many elderly people and children were sitting in those rows. But, everyone was aware of the fire,” she added.
She said over the next few minutes, the flight crew told the passengers that everyone was under control and the passengers would soon be put on another plane.
“Initially when the fire broke out and the plane stopped, passengers were scared. Many wanted to undo the straps of their belt and just get up, but the flight crew calmed everyone. The crew gave everyone water and made sure people settled down…The fire brigade and security staff arrived immediately. The fire was noticed and controlled on the runway itself. We could see things were under control outside. So, I would not say there was a lot of panic, but for the initial few seconds, one could see people praying and chanting mantras…which people usually also do when they feel scared during take-off,” she said.
The passenger said they were in the plane for over an hour and were taken to a parking bay, where they were evacuated from the flight.
“We were in the plane for over an hour. There was delay in getting to the parking bay which I assume was due to clearances. We got off from the stairs from the left side of plane at the parking bay. After security check, we boarded another flight to Bengaluru around 12.30 am,” she said.
“Everyone was jittery and had their doubts and were trying to understand the situation…Some were asking me for the video of the fire. We had connectivity since the plane was on the runway, so passengers were keeping tab on media reports. A majority of passengers were from Bengaluru, so they were relieved when the airlines informed that an alternate flight was being arranged…many wanted to board immediately,” she added.
“The plane would have taken off in 5 to 7 seconds…had the fire not been noticed…it would have been a nightmare. The ground staff and flight crew were helpful and the situation was well managed by the airlines…the airlines released a statement saying it was a technical glitch, but it did not look like that. It was a fire and a safety hazard,” she said.