Indian authorities ground Jet Airways crew after evacuation incident

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Indian authorities have suspended two pilots and eight crew members from Jet Airways for mishandling the evacuation of passengers from an aircraft at Mumbai Airport.

In the 27 August incident, passengers were evacuated from a Jet Airways Konnect flight departing for Chennai, after crew members reportedly saw fire on the aircraft's left engine, says India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Jet Airways operates Boeing 737 aircraft on the flight.

While the aircraft was taxiing for departure, additional crew members who were travelling as passengers on the aircraft reportedly observed fire on the left engine.

They proceeded to inform the pilot, who then asked an on-duty cabin crew member to confirm that there was fire on the engine.

After she did so, the pilot pulled the fire handles for both engines and the auxiliary power unit, says the DGCA. However, he did not discharge any of the fire bottles to extinguish the fire, it adds.

The pilot then ordered an evacuation of the aircraft through the escape slides. Fourteen of the 131 passengers on board were injured while leaving the aircraft.

Subsequent inspections of the aircraft found that there was no fire in the engine area, and checks showed no problems with the engines, says the DGCA. It has removed the aircraft's flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder for analysis.

Preliminary findings have indicated "serious procedural lapses in dealing with the emergency and evacuation situation as per existing procedures", says the DGCA, which has classified the incident as serious.

It has suspended the two pilots, four cabin crew members and four additional crew members pending investigations, it adds.

"The DGCA has also called for a meeting of the heads of training of all airlines to review the training procedures of cabin and flight crews, particularly in emergency and evacuation procedures," says the authority.

Jet Airways says the pilot had ordered an evacuation as a "precautionary emergency".

"Safety of our guests is of paramount importance to Jet Airways and any inconvenience caused is deeply regretted," it adds, saying that it is fully co-operating with the DGCA's investigation into the incident.