Indian airliner lands safely after engine fire

PATNA, India: A New Delhi-bound flight with 185 passengers made an emergency landing in the eastern Indian city of Patna on Sunday (June 19) after its left engine caught fire mid-flight, officials said.

Passengers aboard the domestic flight, operated by commercial airline SpiceJet, were safely evacuated when the pilot returned to Patna Airport shortly after takeoff.

“The plane returned to Patna airport after locals (on the ground) noticed a fire on the plane’s left wing and informed airport officials,” District Judge Chandrashekhar Singh told reporters.

“All 185 passengers were able to disembark safely. The reason for the fire is a technical error. The engineering team is analyzing,” Singh added.

A passenger told reporters that there was a lot of noise on board the plane for the first 15 minutes after takeoff.

“The pilot announced there was a problem and that we were going back to Patna… it was pretty scary,” said Pacifica, who gave just one name.

A bird that struck the engine may have started the fire, local news station NDTV quoted aviation sources as saying.

No-frills airline SpiceJet has been in the news in recent weeks when aviation authorities fined one million Indian rupees (about $12,830) for training its Boeing 737 MAX pilots on a faulty simulator.

In April, authorities banned 90 SpiceJet pilots from operating that plane because they said they were not properly trained, according to local media reports.

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