All things considered aviation is incredibly safe. Incidents occur, though fortunately a vast majority of them don’t have any fatalities. While they might make the news, everyone makes it out safely, and there are no major injuries.
Along those lines, two Indian airlines — Spicejet and Air India Express — had a rough start to the week.
On Monday and Tuesday of this week, the two airlines had a combined total of five incidents on landing. Fortunately there were no fatalities, though you also can’t help but wonder if this is just a really bad coincidence, or reflective of a bigger issue.
So, what happened?
- On Monday an Air India Express 737-800 flying from Dammam to Kohzikode had a tail strike on landing; amazingly the plane returned to service about seven hours later
- On Monday a Spicejet Dash 8 flying from Bhopal to Surat Gujarat overran the runway by nearly 900 feet
- On Tuesday a Spicejet 737-800 flying from Jaipur to Mumbai overran the runway, and was going about 80 knots at the end of the runway; the nose gear ended up collapsing, and the plane was substantially damaged
- On Tuesday a Spicejet 737-800 flying from Pune to Kolkata veered right during landing, making contact with a number of runway lights, before the crew managed to get the plane back on the runway centerline; the plane returned to service about eight hours later
- On Tuesday an Air India Express 737-800 flying from Dubai to Mangalore veered right on landing and the nose gear went over a drainage ditch at the end of the runway (below is a video of that)
Admittedly India has had bad weather the past few days, and at least some of the incidents were weather related. Still, to see five incidents over the course of two days is pretty significant.
Incidents happen, so I suppose this could just be bad luck.
However, it is also worth noting that over the past decade or so we’ve gone from a pilot surplus to a pilot shortage. As we see air travel become more accessible and the aviation industry grow, we’re also seeing less experienced pilots at the controls.
That’s true across the world, especially at low cost carriers. So while I’m not saying that’s definitely the case here, having this number of landing incidents in a short period is… concerning.
This is only the start of India’s monsoon season, so hopefully this was isolated and isn’t reflective of what’s to come.