Less than a week after 158 people were killed in the Mangalore air crash, two airplanes narrowly escaped a collision at the Mumbai airport on Wednesday night.
A Jet Airways flight arriving from Kolkata was about 700 feet from touchdown when Air Traffic Control (ATC) officials asked the pilot to make a go-around (an aborted landing and taking off mid-air) after it spotted an Indigo flight headed to Bangalore on the same runway.
The incident occurred around 9 pm. Airport sources said that the Indigo flight was supposed to line up at the end of the main runway (called 27) for take off. Instead, the Indigo pilot took the wrong turn and reached the middle of runway.
“The Indigo flight was near the intersection area. A go-around for the Jet Airways flight was the safest option to avoid collision,” said M.G. Jhunghare, general manager, ATC (western region). Indigo Airlines blamed the faulty taxiway lights for the incident.
“The aircraft overshot the taxiway by a few metres but it had not entered the runway. The ATC officials asked us to wait and send a follow-me jeep to guide the aircraft to the end of runway,” said Indigo president, Aditya Ghosh.
As per the procedures, the pilot of the Indigo flight would be taken off-duty till the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) completes the investigation.
The DGCA’s preliminary investigation confirmed that the taxiway lights were not working when the Indigo flight used it to enter the main runway.
“It could be one of the reasons that led to the confusion because the pilot turned left instead of going straight,” said a DGCA official requesting anonymity, as he not authorised to the talk to the media.