JetLite Boeing 737-300
A JetLite Boeing 737-800 performing flight S2-361 from Kolkata to Guwahati, India, returned to Kolkata airport, after the crew declared an emergency after the left hand engine caught fire shortly after take-off at 0629 local 0059 GMT, January 17, 2009.
The crew shut the engine down, activated fire extinguisher, and stopped the fire. The plane landed 0648 local.
The entire incident was handled in such a smooth and practised manner, that emergency services attending the aircraft did not need to jump in to action. All 38 passengers and 8 crew disembarked normally. Kudos to the JetLite crew.
The flight was cancelled, the passengers were rebooked onto another flight four hours later.
The cause of the engine fire has not yet been determined.
Update 1 – January 18, 2009
Similar to the US Airways A320 crash in New York, a bird hit has been held responsible for the engine failure.
A kite was sucked in to the left side engine before the aircraft reached an altitude of 500ft AGL. Smoke starting billowing from the engine. An air traffic controller alerts the flight crew, who must have also received in-flight alarms by that time. With alacrity, the crew led by Captain Ajay Keri, goes through the emergency procedures, extinguishes the fire, turns the aircraft around, and lands.
From news photos, the aircraft appears to be VT-SJI. Construction Number: 34399, Line Number: 2030, Aircraft Type: Boeing 737-89P; Engines 2 x CFMI CFM56-7B24, First Flight: August 16, 2006, delivered to Air Sahara: August 24, 2006. Air Sahara was acquired by Jet Airways and renamed JetLite.
On Friday, January 16, 2009, in a very similar incident occurred halfway across the world.
An Interjet Airbus A320-200, flight 4O-809 from Guadalajara to San Jose Cabo, Mexico, with 106 passengers, struck a vulture with its left engine while departing from Guadalajara forcing the crew to shut the engine down and return to Guadalajara. The airplane landed safely about 20 minutes after lift-off.
Be it geese in New York, kites in Kolkata, or vultures in Guadalajara, for the third time in this incident laden week-end, pilots across three countries and three airlines, have calmly done what they repeatedly train for, and completed their primary duty, by safely bringing back the people in their charge.