In tragic news, a passenger seriously injured on a SpiceJet flight in May passed away in late September. The 48-year-old man had been undergoing treatment for a spinal fracture caused when the Boeing 737 flew into rough weather and caused severe turbulence onboard. Let’s find out more.

Rare occurrence

Despite how advanced modern aircraft are today, turbulence still remains an issue, especially if not tackled correctly. On May 1st, a SpiceJet Boeing 737-800 flew head-first into a storm, causing severe turbulence onboard and leaving 15 passengers and crew members injured. Two travelers faced life-threatening injuries, one with head trauma and the other with a spinal fracture.

According to The Indian Express, the passenger who suffered a spinal fracture was Akbar Ansari, a 48-year-old traveling with his brother on SG-945 from Mumbai to Durgapur. After five months of battling his injuries, he passed away on September 26th, marking only the second instance of a passenger dying from turbulence-related injuries in India.

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SpiceJet Boeing 737 landing

The official death certificate confirms the spinal injury as the primary cause, which later led to sepsis. SpiceJet confirmed the news yesterday, stating that the airline had offered to cover all medical expenses and is paying out compensation as per the current requirements. But first, let’s take a look at what occurred on May 1st and the fallout from the incident.

Equipment faulty, pilot suspended

SG-945 quickly attracted scrutiny from India’s aviation watchdog, the DGCA. The first contention was with the fact the 737 was allowed to contine operating despite damage within the cabin, which included a broken overhead bin lock, items from the galley strewn around, broken arm rests and more. This resulted in SpiceJet’s entire fleet undergoing an inspection for safety faults, as it suffered eight more incidents over the summer.

In August, reports were confirmed that the weather radar on the 737 was indeed faulty, with pilots operating the aircraft previously issues. Despite this, SpiceJet made no changes and allowed the aircraft to continue operating. The issues with the radar might explain SG-945 flew into the storm, while planes around it chose to avoid the bad weather altogether. The pilot-in-command from the flight was suspended in late August as well following the incident.

SpiceJet Boeing 737

Photo: Boeing

All of these factors contributed to the death of Akbar Ansari, who was traveling with his brother on the flight. There are questions surrounding whether the crew provided enough warning to fasten seat belts, with some passengers, including Ansari’s brother, saying there was no proper warning, while SpiceJet claims that multiple announcements were made and some passengers failed to follow the instructions.

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Safety is crucial

As of today, the DGCA has cleared SpiceJet to resume flying 100% of its scheduled capacity after meeting the safety requirements set forth by the regulatory. The carrier has handed a three-month penalty of only flying 50% of flights after it failed to the meet the standards of a safe carrier. However, all eyes will be on the low-cost carrier as it tries to salvage its operations and return to its previous market position.

What do you think about SpiceJet’s safety lapses? Let us know in the comments.

Source: The Indian Express


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