Curry powder sparks airline fire alert: report

Posted at 06/15/09 10:48 AM

MUMBAI – An Air India passenger jet heading to Frankfurt was forced to return to Mumbai after a bag of curry powder set off smoke and fire alarms, it was reported on Saturday.

Pilots on the Boeing 747-400 plane activated fire extinguishers after receiving a cockpit warning about a fire in the cargo hold early on Friday morning, the Mumbai Mirror newspaper said.

But on the plane's return to India's financial and entertainment capital, engineers said the alert had been triggered by the escape of particles from a bag containing two to three kilogrammes (up to 6.6lbs) of curry powder.

The bag, belonging to a passenger from the western Indian state of Gujarat, was removed before the plane took off again after a 12-hour delay.

"On taking off for the second time, the pilot apologised for the delay and announced that a bag containing curry powder had caused the problem," Air India spokesman Jitendra Bhargava was quoted as saying.

Mangoes and meat products that generate heat have been suspected of causing similar incidents on Air India flights in the past, the newspaper said.