Passengers on a Mumbai-bound Jetlite flight were taken by surprise on Tuesday when the pilot informed them that they would be landing in Ahmedabad.
The visibility over Mumbai was fine; the runway was clear for landing but the airplane’s pilots did not meet the requirements of the fresh safety guidelines issued by the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) for landings on Mumbai airport’s curtailed runway.
According to the new rules, the flight commander has to be a senior pilot (in the rank of a trainer) and the co-pilot should have 300 hours of flying experience. The Jetlite pilots did not make the cut. “As per the DGCA order, the air traffic control did not allow the flight to land,” said an airport official. The flight was diverted at 1.10 pm, five minutes after the runway was shut partially. “Passengers were furious with the crew,” said an airline source, requesting anonymity.
Flight movement on the fourth Tuesday was safer than the previous three partial runway shutdowns.
But only 70 per cent flights operated during the six-hour runway closure as airlines rescheduled several flights. The shortened runway that handled 73 flight movements in the first week and 82 on the following Tuesday handled only 58 take-offs and landings this time.
GoAir did not operate a single flight on the curtailed runway.
On November 3, GoAir’s Delhi-bound flight had aborted landing twice and nearly crashed into the construction site. Both the pilots were taken off duty pending an inquiry.