An Airbus A320neo IndiGo made an emergency landing in Karachi following a technical problem on the plane. The flight was operating between Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, and Hyderabad when it was forced to land two hours into the route. The passengers were picked up by a replacement IndiGo aircraft and the original aircraft returned the following day after checks.
Second hijacking in as many weeks
IndiGo flight 6E1046 took off from Sharjah Airport (SHJ) at 23:15 local time on Saturday July 16, 20 minutes late, bound for Hyderabad. The flight started on its usual course in the Arabian Sea, passing the first hour of 3 hours and 30 minutes without any problems. However, at 00:35 a.m. UAE time, the plane made a northerly turn to divert to Karachi airport.
The flight landed safely 38 minutes after the turn at Jinnah International Airport (KHI), landing at 02:15 local time. The reason for the diversion remains unknown, with IndiGo saying the pilots observed a “technical fault” and decided to divert as a precaution rather than continue the journey over water to Hyderabad (HYD).
Once on the ground, IndiGo acted quickly to send a replacement aircraft to Karachi to bring back the stranded passengers and crew, as well as new crew to retrieve the A320neo. VT-IZO, another A320neo departed Ahemdabad at 11:58 a.m. local time for the hour-long journey to Karachi, landing at 12:30 p.m. From there it departed at 4:08 p.m. and landed in Hyderabad at 5:36 p.m. local time.
In total, the flight landed 13 hours later than the scheduled time (4:10 a.m.) and the passengers spent 14 hours on the ground in Karachi waiting for an emergency house.
IndiGo operates the SHJ-HYD route using an Airbus A320neo, with the July 16 flight operated by VT-IJK. The 186-seat all-economy jet was delivered new to IndiGo in July 2019, according to Planespotters.net. The aircraft had no notable incidents during its three years of service.
VT-IJK also returned to India on Sunday, flying to Hyderabad at 4:29 p.m., just minutes from the rescue flight deployed by IndiGo. After some technical checks, the aircraft was returned to service and should resume commercial flight tomorrow.
IndiGo’s large fleet allows it to quickly dispatch rescue planes to stranded passengers. Photo: Getty Images
Under the regulations, flights are advised to divert to the nearest suitable airport if there is a security risk. Even stray warnings in the cockpit can trigger landings, explaining why so many flights turn away, with one seemingly every day.
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In the spotlight
Saturday’s IndiGo hijacking is in the spotlight as it is the second time in as many weeks that an Indian plane has landed in Pakistan. A Boeing 737 MAX SpiceJet also landed in Karachi in early July due to a fuel supply indicator issue, which led to regulatory action against the carrier. Due to political tensions, there are no direct flights between India and Pakistan, however, the two countries can use each other’s airspace.