icu: Air turbulence: 2 in intensive care unit, the DGCA grounds the crew of the SpiceJet

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NEW DELHI: Operating the badly shaken Boeing 737 to Kolkata hours after encountering severe turbulence on approach to Durgapur on Sunday evening has cost SpiceJet dearly. The DGCA has dismissed the aircraft maintenance engineer who cleared this plane to take off from Durgapur, the pilots who transported it to Kolkata as a ferry flight (without passengers) and the head of the center of airline maintenance control pending investigation.
Three passengers are still hospitalized, including two in intensive care, after suffering brain and spinal cord injuries, the DGAC said.

Strict action against the airline’s top flight safety officials will soon follow, DGCA officials said. Additionally, DGCA chief Arun Kumar has ordered extensive checks on the entire SpiceJet fleet.

Durgapu
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The SpiceJet plane faces air turbulence during its descent in Durgapur on Sunday.
Flight SG-945 took off from Mumbai at 5.13pm on Sunday for Durgapur with 199 people on board – 195 passengers, four cabin crew and two pilots. “During the descent, the aircraft experienced severe turbulence. During this period, the autopilot disengaged for two minutes and the crew manually piloted the aircraft,” the DGCA said in a statement. “The B737’s oxygen panels opened and the oxygen masks fell off. (A) Some seat hand rests and upper decorative panels were damaged. A cabin upper locker lock (hatrack) was found broken” , he added.
Due to the severe turbulence, 14 passengers and three cabin crew members were injured. The injuries were to the head, spine, shoulder, forehead and face.

SpiceJet then operated the aircraft to its nearest maintenance base, Kolkata, for repairs as a ferry flight. But flying this very shaken plane is considered a safety breach.
The regulator formed a multidisciplinary panel to investigate the turbulence incident. SpiceJet says eight of the 11 hospitalized passengers were released and the cockpit and cabin crew made “multiple announcements asking flyers to remain seated with seatbelts fastened” as the Boeing 737 rocked in turbulence.
Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia tweeted on Monday: “…DGCA has tasked a team to investigate the incident. The matter is handled with the utmost seriousness and skill…”
A SpiceJet spokesperson said: “SpiceJet is providing all possible assistance to the injured. The seat belt sign was illuminated when the aircraft encountered turbulence… Due to severe turbulence, a few passengers were injured. Prompt medical assistance was provided upon arrival.



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