While the plane landed safely and nobody was injured, the incident is sensitive as it involved an aircraft model that only recently returned to the skies in India after a lengthy global grounding in the wake of two fatal crashes that were primarily blamed on faulty software.
Sources aware of the development said that VT-MXA- a three-year-old aircraft of SpiceJet en route to Durgapur from Chennai had to turn around. The crew shut down the second engine after an oil filter bypass light got illuminated in cruise.
“The pilot in command carried out inflight shutdown of the engine number two as per the quick reference hand books. Air turn back was initiated after the checks were done and the pilot requested priority landing of the aircraft. The pilot was swift in decision making and the aircraft landed safely without any injury to any passenger,” said a person aware of the development.
DGCA sources said that the aircraft had been grounded and was being investigated.
Data from flight tracking website, Flightradar24.com shows the aircraft took off on Tuesday evening and started to turn back after about 15 minutes in the air.
“The pilot sent out a Pan Pan Pan which indicates a distress call, signalling that the aircraft was experiencing a problem. All provisions of emergency landing were followed and the aircraft landed safely,” the person quoted above said.
However, the incident doesn’t appear to be linked to automated software known as the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, which was established as the main reason behind the 2018 and 2019 crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people.
The Max was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after the second crash. The single-aisle jet returned to service in India only in August last year after aviation regulator DGCA lifted a ban on Boeing 737 MAX aircraft- two and half years after the aircraft were grounded following two fatal crashes around the world killing 346 people.