The touchdown of a flight and a take-off of another was cancelled last-minute at the Mumbai airport on Tuesday, after a city-bound flight took longer than usual to vacate the runway.
At around 3 am on Tuesday, an Etihad flight from Abu Dhabi, on its final approach, did a sudden go-around (aborted landing followed by take-off). Sources in the Air Traffic Control (ATC) said that the pilot opted for the go-around because an Air France flight, which had landed shortly before, had not vacated the main runway. Around the same time, a Jet Airways flight scheduled to take-off for Brussels was also asked to abort take-off and exit the runway.
“According to the preliminary investigation it appears that the delay in vacating the runway by the Air France flight caused the go-around and the aborted take-off. Other factors such as proximity between the flights and protocol procedures are under investigation,” said an AAI official. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will also probe the cause of delay in vacating the airstrip.
Laxity among pilots in the time taken to exit the runway has been a challenge restricting the airport capacity. In November last year, the ATC set a speed limit of 50 nautical miles for arriving flights to vacate the runway. The notice to airmen also advised city-bound flights to take the first of the three high-speed taxiways on the airport’s main runway to cut down the time taken .
The larger plan behind expediting the runway exit time is to increase the airport’s flight handling capacity from 32 flight movements per hour to 48. Airport sources said the ATC had issued a rule to reprimand pilots taxiing slowly on the airfield but it was ineffective as the implementation was poor.