Grass-cutting machine at runway, not just rain, hit flight ops in city

Even as the Mumbai airport operator blamed the rain for mass flight diversions on June 25, a probe by the aviation safety regulator has found that a grass-cutting machine stuck near the main runway was actually responsible for disruptions.

Hundreds of Mumbai-bound fliers had to land in other cities as the incident paralysed flight operations at Mumbai airport for at least 25 minutes, said sources from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

According to the DGCA probe, the grass-cutting machine was stuck close to a crucial navigation aid of the main runway, making the strip dysfunctional for 20 minutes. However, a statement issued by the Mumbai Inter-national Airport Limited concealed the incident and entirely blamed the poor weather.

“The preliminary probe shows that some flights were diverted purely because the grass-cutting machine made the main runway unusable. Fluctuating visibility made the situation worse,” said a senior DGCA official.

DGCA sources said the ATC had warned the airport operator to reschedule the grass-cutting work as it was raining heavily and the secondary runway is not equipped to handle flights during poor visibility.


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