Air India
Air IndiaReuters

An Air India flight had an emergency landing at the Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey, on Sunday after an engine overheated and caught fire.

According to airport officials, the flight was bound for Mumbai and had 313 passengers on board, none of whom were injured. It was first suspected that a bird strike was the cause of fire but was proven otherwise on further investigation.

The pilot of AI Flight 144 reported about the flames coming out from an engine on the aircraft's left side, Erica Dumas - a spokesperson for the Port of New York and New Jersey - told Reuters.

"Aircraft rescue and firefighters responded, and the aircraft was towed to the ramp. The passengers deplaned on the taxiway and were bussed to the terminal," Wireupdate quoted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Air India is reputed for engaging in emergency landings every year, usually owing to technical faults which require to be checked and properly serviced by the engineers in charge before take off. 

In January, a Delhi-bound AI flight with 135 passengers onboard had made an emergency landing in Varanasi, due to technical faults merely 15 minutes after take off. In the following month, an AI Dreamliner made an unscheduled landing in Kuala Lumpur, after all three of the jet's navigation computers failed simultaneously.

Last year, an AI helicopter landed because of oil leakage in Gujarat. The same year one more emergency landing happened in Vishakhapatnam with 174 passengers onboard, after pilots detected a snag in its engine parameters.

Even in 2012, a Delhi-bound AI plane made an unscheduled landing in Pakistan, after detecting a technical problem with its hydraulic systems, with 122 passengers onboard.

Air India, which recently joined Star Alliance group on Friday, made promises to improve services for the travellers. But these emergency landings raise questions on the services provided by the airline. It also puts the passengers' lives at risk.

Now that the government has budgeted an upfront equity of ₹6,750 crore in the current fiscal year and the airline itself has improved its financial standing compared to the last couple of years, the travellers can finally hope for better services and less emergency landings in the coming years.

"AI's operating losses had declined by 44.2% to ₹2,123.78 crore and net loss had declined to ₹5,388.82 crore," Hindustan Times quoted aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju.