A SpiceJet employee was crushed to death by the landing gear flaps on a Q400 at Kolkata Airport shortly after midnight yesterday. A report in Channel News Asia says the trainee technician got stuck between the hydraulic landing gear flaps after they accidentally closed on him whilst he was conducting routine maintenance work.
The man killed, Rohit Virendra Pandey, was just 22 years old. He had only been working at SpiceJet’s Kolkata engineering and maintenance division for three months. His shift had started at midnight and he was found by another airport worker some two hours later.
Indian news source Pratidintime is reporting that Mr. Pandey was working in and around the right-hand main landing gear wheel well of the Bombardier Q400 aircraft. Somehow the hydraulic gear flaps closed on Mr. Panday. He was declared deceased after his body was removed.
While investigations are ongoing, the immediate response of airport employees was to declare it a freak accident. One told the Hindustani Times that;
“We have spent nearly two decades at this airport. We have never heard about such a freak accident here.”
Snapshot of SpiceJet
Headquartered in Gurgaon, India, the low-cost carrier is one of the biggest airlines in the country. It has over 100 aircraft in its fleet, including 13 grounded 737 MAXs. It flies to 55 destinations including seven destinations outside India.
SpiceJet posted a loss last year. While it did enjoy a recent fill-up in passenger numbers and revenue as a result of the Jet Airways collapse, a price war in the Indian aviation market and rising operating costs have hurt SpiceJet financially.
An interesting safety record
SpiceJet has a mixed safety reputation. While it has avoided major incidents it has had a number of what the industry terms “runway excursions” – that is, the plane takes an unplanned jaunt off the runway.
In April this year, a SpiceJet Boeing 737 flying from Delhi to Shirdi overshot the 2500m runway at Shirdi by a good one hundred feet before stopping on “soft ground.” No-one was seriously hurt.
Late in June 2019, another SpiceJet flight from Bhopal to Surat overshot the runway after landing. Again, fortunately, no one was injured and all passengers and crew got off safely.
A quick check of Aero Inside shows SpiceJet has had three “runway excursions” within the last fortnight – the aforementioned Surat incident on 30th June 2019, another incident at Mumbai on 1st July 2019, and a further incident at Kolkata on 2nd July 2019. That’s three in three days.
However, other Indian airlines have also had a run on runway excursions, owing to the heavy monsoon rains in recent weeks.
Simple Flying extends its sympathies to Mr. Pandey’s family. Simple Flying reached out to SpiceJet for comment but had received no response by publishing deadline.
Investigations into the death are continuing.