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‘Fuel leak’ grounds Spicejet flight

Guwahati, Dec. 17: A Guwahati-Agartala-Mumbai Spicejet flight (SG-874) was grounded just ahead of take-off from LGB International Airport at Borjhar after passengers detected “leakage of fuel” and raised an alarm.

“The aircraft was on the runway and was about to take off when a passenger sitting behind me started shouting that fuel was leaking from the aircraft. He was sitting by the window. There was commotion among the passengers. After some time, the crew members told us that there was some technical defect in the aircraft,” Parag Mudoi, one of the passengers on board, told The Telegraph soon after the leakage was detected.

Mudoi, a project officer with Mumbai-based International Institute for Population Sciences, was travelling to Agartala on official work.

There were 124 passengers aboard the flight, which was scheduled to take off for Agartala at 2.45pm. The passengers were first asked to wait inside the aircraft as engineers at the airport were pressed into service to address the problem. Around 4pm, the passengers were asked to disembark, as the engineers were unable to repair it.

Spicejet manager in the airport Debashish Choudhury confirmed that a technical fault had been detected in the aircraft and was being rectified by engineers. “I can only say that our engineers are looking into the problem. I cannot give further details,” he said.

The passengers were subsequently flown on another Spicejet aircraft at 6.40pm.

The incident, however, raised questions about facilities and safety of passengers at the airport, which sees at least 80 take-offs and landings daily.

Barnali Dutta, a resident of Dibrugarh and a PhD student in Mumbai, voiced her apprehensions. “The passenger saw the fuel leaking about 30 seconds before take-off. How come they could not detect the fault during the pre-take-off checks? How can they be so irresponsible about the safety of passengers?” Dutta, who was travelling to Mumbai, asked.

“We do not know what would have happened had the fault been not detected and the flight taken off…it’s a very scary thought,” said another passenger, Arup Bharali, a businessman, who was on his way to Agartala.

The airport director, Atul Dikshit, said, “I cannot comment on the technical fault in an aircraft. The Spicejet people told me the engineers are looking into it. I am only responsible for facilities for passengers in the airport.”

The LGBI airport is the largest in the Northeast and was declared the 12th busiest airport in the country by the Airports Authority of India last year.