An aircraft of IndiGo Airlines on Wednesday reportedly caught fire at Delhi’s IGI Airport soon after it landed, but all passengers were evacuated safely as the pilot initiated emergency measures by informing airport authorities. According to IndiGo Airlines, flight 6E 176 from Mumbai to Delhi had smoke emerging from its left brake assembly just after it landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Fire fighting measures were immediately put in place at the Delhi airport.
However, the airline said that all 148 passengers and crew on board were safely evacuated within 75 seconds. There was no fire, the airline said, adding that it had already initiated an inquiry into the incident. Emergency evacuation of an IndiGo aircraft which arrived at IGI Airport from Mumbai on Wednesday left about 30 passengers with minor injuries. Following a fire scare, the passengers had to be deplaned on the taxiway with emergency chutes. The scare was possibly caused by overheating of brakes under hard braking as the Airbus A-320 had landed on Runway 27, which is the shortest of IGI’s three airstrips.
The incident happened at 3.35pm when 6E-176 landed with 148 passengers, including an infant, and six crew on board. “The plane landed uneventfully. When it was taxiing towards Terminal 1D (used by low-cost carriers’ domestic flights), air traffic controllers saw thick smoke billowing from its left side. The fire fighting staff at the airport also observed the smoke. The ATC immediately asked the pilot to stop the plane where it was and evacuate passengers fearing a fire,” said a senior ATC official.
IndiGo in its statement said the pilot “immediately ordered the crew to deplane all passengers in the interest of passengers and crew safety. The evacuation was done on the taxiway in approximately 75 seconds”. Sources said 28 passengers had minor injuries that required first aid. “All passengers and crew members are safe and have been taken to the terminal building. Some of the passengers who suffered minor injuries during evacuation were given medical attention and taken care of by our airport team. They have all left for their homes,” the airline statement said. One of the passengers was learned to have suffered a fracture but this could not be confirmed. Aviation regulator DGCA and the airline are probing the incident.
After the evacuation, examination of the plane showed there was no fire. Sources said the pilot may have used hard braking to stop on the small runway, leading to overheating of brake discs. “If at that time the aircraft’s hydraulic fluid leaks and falls on the overheated disc, there is very thick smoke? Giving the impression of a big fire,” a pilot said. In this case, the left brake assembly of the nose gear (front wheel) had got overheated. “Investigations are underway. There was no fire and this was not an emergency or priority landing. There is absolutely no compromise on safety,” the airline said.