Several air passengers were inconvenienced on Monday as three city-bound flights had to abort landing at the last minute and go-around mid-air due to the bad weather conditions in Mumbai. Early morning visibility on the airfield dropped to 900 metres, which is way below the permissible limit of 2,400 metres.
With one end of the main runway shut for repairs, flights were using part of the main runway and the secondary runway, which is not equipped with the Instrument Landing System (ILS), for take off and landing.
ILS is ground-based and it guides an approaching aircraft using a combination of radio signals and, in many cases, high-intensity lighting arrays to enable a safe landing during reduced visibility.
At 8:27am, Jet Airways flight 9W 478 from Bangalore was the first to abort touchdown. The Boeing 737 aircraft circled above the airport for 20 minutes, but was made to do another go-around at 8:50am, as visibility did not improve. Air traffic controllers (ATC) finally diverted the flight to Baroda.
Subsequently, an Indigo Airlines flight from Kolkata was on final approach when the pilot realised that he could not see the runway. The Airbus A320 aircraft, however, did land in the city later.
An Air India flight from Bangalore also had to cancel landing at the last minute at 10.43am after its pilot spotted a Hyderabad-based Jetlite flight occupying the main runway. According to airport sources, the Jetlite flight S2 601 was delayed for take-off.
“Bad weather forced three flights to go-around, but there were no delays as both the runways were in use,” said a Mumbai International Airport Ltd spokesperson.