KOLKATA: A Bengaluru-bound IndiGo Airlines flight returned about an hour after takeoff on Sunday when the pilot detected a crack in the windshield. The flight with 178 passengers on board landed safely after a standby emergency was declared at the airport.
Flight 6E 345 took off from Kolkata at 9.45am. Around 10.10am, the captain contacted the air traffic control and requested permission to return to Kolkata citing a crack in the windshield. The aircraft was then flying at an altitude of 15,000ft-20,000ft and had travelled around 100km.At the airport, a low grade emergency, referred to as standby, was declared for the plane. The aircraft — an Airbus A 320 — touched down around 10.34am and then taxied to a parking bay.
“The pilot contacted the ATC, informing them about the crack and sought permission to return to Kolkata. The ATC officials gave the requisite permission, following which the flight returned and landed safely. All the passengers were safe and the flight was sent to the parking bay,” said an AAI official. The passengers were accommodated on another flight.
Experts said a windshield crack is not uncommon. According to airline engineers, a crack usually occurs due to two reasons. It could be because of an impact, like a bird hit, or it could be due to arching in a layer where heating elements are embedded to prevent icing when the plane flies in sub-zero temperatures at high altitudes.
“Had it been because of a bird hit, the crack would have happened during takeoff and should have been spotted immediately. But in this case, the plane flew a considerable distance and gained an altitude beyond which bird hits are rare. Hence, it is likely that arching led to the crack,” an expert said.