A tower controller of the Mumbai air traffic control (ATC) was suspended pending an inquiry on Monday based on evidence found by the aviation regulator in its probe into the near-collision incident at Mumbai on August 22.
Last Wednesday, an Air India pilot aborted landing merely 350 feet from touchdown after he spotted a Jet Airways flight on the airstrip.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) found that the controller did not act on three alerts reported by the surface movement radar (SMR) regarding a runway incursion. According to ATC sources, the SMR first issued a ‘predictive alert’ which indicates the possibility of a collision. This was followed by two ‘runway incursion alerts’, which means that the AI flight could touch down before the Jet flight took off.
“The first incursion alert stated that the AI flight was 36 seconds from landing followed by another alert stating that the AI flight was 19 seconds from touchdown. Despite the alerts the tower controller failed to order a go-around for the AI pilot,” said a senior ATC official requesting anonymity.
“According to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) rules the phrase to stop a moving aircraft on the runway is “Stop immediately”. However, the controller said “reject take-off” which is applicable only when an aircraft is stationary,” the ATC official said.
Sources said although the ATC blamed the Jet pilot for slow taxiing, the controller knew about its speed from the SMR. The Jet pilot said he taxied slowly because of the wet airfield. He could also see the taillight of another Air India flight that landed a few minutes ago, he said.
ATC Mumbai chief J Dasgupta was not available for comment.