An Indian airline Spice Jet’s plane on flight SG11 declared an emergency near Karachi due to oil or fuel leak indicator warnings on its Boeing 737-Max8 aircraft. The aircraft was en route to Dubai from Delhi. There were 138 passengers including 12 crew members. The aircraft safely landed at 9:17 am and initially, the captain decided to keep the passengers inside the plane. I spoke to multiple sources at Karachi airport about the event and got information from them and this is how the story unfolded.
When the control tower asked him what assistance he requires he requested only stairs so he could go out and inspect the aircraft for any signs of fuel leakage or any other issue. CAA provided the aircraft stairs and the captain came down and inspected the plane while the crew and passengers remained inside. Upon completion of the inspection, he requested an engineer who could perform a dip test to check the fuel levels. CAA offered the captain option of PIA engineering support or any other MRO but he only requested for dip test. The dip test proved the fact that the fuel burn was more than normal but there was no leakage so the captain went back and contacted the airline.
In the meantime, CAA contacted the pilot and he requested to have permission granted for himself for maintenance work as well as the fact that engineers are on their way from Mumbai on a replacement aircraft. Meaning the captain will be doing the maintenance with the help of Spice Jet engineers and not utilise local engineering support offered by Pakistan CAA.
At this point, the captain decided to allow the passengers to disembark where CAA staff moved them to the transit lounge. The captain informed Pakistan CAA to remove the baggage and load it into the replacement aircraft. The replacement aircraft arrived around 6 pm as flight SG9911 registration VT-MXD and flew to Dubai after 9 pm as the baggage was transferred to the replacement plane.
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CAA provided food and water to the passengers while they were on the plane and later in the transit lounge. But officials working at Karachi airport told me that “we were on standby to provide technical assistance but the captain behaved in a very weird way. We felt he was behaving as if he was on a war mission and ended up in hostile territory”.
He further said that “we could have easily fixed the issue with the aircraft and it could have continued its flight to Dubai in worst case scenario the captain could have got more fuel in line with increase fuel burn and returned to India or went to its destination. But we were surprised by the way the captain behaved and Spice Air handled the situation”. On the other hand, it is normal for airlines to use their own engineers in most situations and it seems to be the case that the captain of the Spice jet decided to wait for its own engineers.
According to SpiceJet “On July 5, 2022, SpiceJet B737 aircraft operating flight SG-11 (Delhi-Dubai) was diverted to Karachi due to an indicator light malfunctioning. The aircraft landed safely at Karachi and passengers were safely disembarked. No emergency was declared and the aircraft made a normal landing. There was no earlier report of any malfunction with the aircraft. Passengers have been served refreshments. A replacement aircraft is being sent to Karachi that will take the passengers to Dubai.”
The technical aircraft left Karachi in the early hours of Wednessday 6 July at 03.25 after the problem was fixed. The aircraft is still grounded at Delhi airport.