Mumbai: An IndiGo plane, bound to Chennai from Kolkata, was forced to return mid-way after it suffered a ‘mid-air engine failure. The number of people on board the flight could not be ascertained. The Civil Aviation ministry has taken a serious note of the incident which happened on January 3.

The Airbus A320neo suffered a mid-air engine failure with a “loud bang”, soon after which it returned mid-way to Chennai and has been grounded there since then due to damaged engine blades.

“Ministry has taken serious note (of the incident) and we will review it on Tuesday,” Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey told PTI. 

As per a source, quoted by PTI, this was for the first time that that an A320neo faced multiple problems — smoke, heavy vibration, loud bang and engine stalled — in one single flight. “One of the P&W engines of IndiGo neo aircraft operating on Chennai-Kolkata route on January 3 stalled mid-air followed by a loud bang and sparks from it and smoke, leading to heavy vibration,” it said.

IndiGo, which is facing such issues in the A320neo planes powered by P&W engines since their induction in the fleet in 2016 and has received compensation from both Airbus and the engine maker for each grounding, said the aircraft returned to Chennai due to “technical caution” noted by the crew.

“An IndiGo flight 6E 923 (Neo) operating Chennai-Kolkata route on January 3 returned to Chennai after take-off due to a technical caution noted by the crew which followed the normal operating procedures and asked for a priority landing. There was no engine shutdown and no emergency landing was declared as per the report,” IndiGo said.

Meanwhile, the government’s apex aircraft investigation body AAIB has rushed a team to Chennai to assess the incident and take a call on the probe. “As per settled practice, we have sent a team. We are awaiting details,” a senior official of the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) told PTI.

The official, however, said it was not yet decided whether AAIB will probe the incident or the aviation regulator DGCA.

In India, two budget carriers IndiGo and GoAir operate P&W engine-powered Airbus A320 planes. The P&W engines-run aircraft have been facing glitches every now and then since their induction in the fleet by the two operators in 2016, with several instances of mid-air engine shutdowns.

(With PTI inputs)