A GoAir flight with 154 passengers narrowly escaped when the pilot aborted landing twice, fearing he would overshoot Mumbai airport’s shortened main runway, officials said.
It finally landed on its third attempt, but came in so low on the second try that it triggered panic among hundreds of workers repairing the runway, said an airport official at the construction site who saw the landing. “People began running helter skelter,” said the official, who did not wish to be named. The regulator has launched an investigation, said Nasim Zaidi, Director General of Civil Aviation. So has Goair, and has taken the pilot off duty for the period of the investigation, a spokesman said. “The pilot descended lower than the ideal level needed for a safe landing,” said MG Jhungare, general manager, air traffic control.
A pilot normally aborts landing when visibility is low, birds clutter the runway or another aircraft obstructs it, none of which was the case on Tuesday, when more than half the 11,000-feet runway was shut for six hours, as it will be for the next 20 weeks. This incident lends weight to air safety experts’ opinion that pilots might need special training to land on the shorter airstrip. “If the tailwind speed is even 10 knots more than expected, the chances of an overrun on such a runway increase,” said Captain Mohan Ranganathan, an air safety expert.