The aviation regulator probing a near-collision at the Mumbai airport on August 22 has found that the Mumbai air traffic control (ATC) does not have a set timeline for aircraft movement on the airfield.
On August 22, an Air India flight carrying more than 100 passengers from Riyadh aborted landing about 350 feet from touchdown after the pilot spotted a Jet Airways flight on the airstrip.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), while probing the incident, found that the ATC slots take-offs and landing based on its own calculation, which is not available to airlines. “Our calculations are based on statistics of several hours of flight operations at the airport. The procedure is followed globally,” said Jayant Dasgupta, general manager, ATC, Mumbai.
However, airport officials said that the lack of a defined policy has resulted in a blame game among those involved in the incident. “The policy should define the maximum time taken by an aircraft to taxi from a parking bay to the runway and the maximum time it takes to get airborne. It should also have separate timelines for situations such as a wet airfield when aircraft movement is slow,” said a senior official with a low-cost airline requesting anonymity.
In the recent near-collision case, the ATC blamed the Jet Airways pilot because he allegedly took close to 120 seconds to take off while the maximum time taken by aircraft is 66 seconds, said sources.
“The ATC has set these estimates based on the average time taken by an aircraft to complete crucial actions such as take-off and runway vacation after touchdown. But unless airlines have access to the calculations such mix-ups could happen frequently,” said a senior ATC official requesting anonymity.
Last week, the DGCA had asked the ATC to explain its logic behind reducing the distance between two city-bound arriving flights from eight nautical miles to six nautical miles.