The aviation safety regulator has taken note of the recent landing scare of an Air India flight in Mumbai as a “serious incident”.
Following a preliminary investigation by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the civil aviation ministry’s specialised team, the Air Accident Investigation Board (AAIB), formed last year to probe serious mishaps, has taken over the case.
On April 12, the flight carrying more than 90 passengers from Abu Dhabi landed on the city airport’s closed runway without clearance from the Air Traffic Control (ATC) office.
Worse, airfield safety officers were looking for a dead bird on the airstrip when the Airbus A320 plane landed on the surface causing a major safety scare.
Subsequently, both the pilots were suspended and two ATC officials on duty were also taken off roster.
According to the DGCA’s preliminary report submitted to the AAIB, the primary cause of the mix up was that the pilots had tuned in to an incorrect radio frequency. As a result, they could not hear the ATC instructions to abort touchdown and go-around (take off from mid-air and circle above the airport till further notice). According to the rules, ATC should have black-flagged the runway to declare it closed for operations, which was not done.
“Now a three-member AAIB team based in Delhi will go through the evidence and crew statements to take the probe ahead,” said a senior civil aviation ministry official, on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The Air India incident was the second case in Mumbai taken up the AAIB within a span of a month. In March, the specialised agency took over the probe into an Indigo Airlines flight that veered to the left of the main runway and broke five edge lights.
The unit was formed after the United Nation’s aviation watchdog pulled up the DGCA over poor maintenance of air accident records. The Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council (CASAC), a government-appointment independent air safety panel, had alleged that the DGCA has been underplaying serious mishaps as minor incidents to maintain a clean record.