The pilot of the Air India flight involved in a near-collision with a Jet Airways flight on Wednesday night aborted landing at a close call of 350ft from the airstrip, found a preliminary investigation by the aviation regulator.
The primary report by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) also found that the AI pilot decided to go-around on his own after he spotted the Jet plane on the tarmac. The DGCA report debunked the Mumbai airport’s report on the incident, which stated that the air traffic control (ATC) official on duty had asked the AI pilot to go-around.
Based on data recorded by the surface movement radar, the DGCA found that the Jet Airways flight was slow to start its take-off run, which could have resulted in a collision with an arriving Air India flight scheduled to land on the same runway. The AI flight was
dangerously close to the airstrip.
“The AI pilot was approximately 350ft above the rapid exit taxiway N5 at the time when the Jet flight had barely gained speed,” said sources.
The DGCA’s assessment stated that the Jet pilot did not follow the ATC’s instruction to abort take-off as the aircraft had crossed the permissible speed to apply brakes. However, ATC sources said the Airbus 330 had not reached the decision speed or V1, the maximum speed after which brakes cannot be applied.
The regulator’s team is likely to question the ATC tower controller on why the person did not direct the AI pilot to go-around. The regulator wants to check whether the staff member, who completed his training and became a commissioned officer only in June, panicked.
The collision was averted because the AI aircraft a 747-400 took a left turn when it decided to take-off mid-air after aborting the landing. This took the aircraft away from the Jet flight’s take-off path. After the Jet flight got airborne both the aircraft maintained a safe vertical distance of 1,000 feet.
J Dasgupta, general manager, ATC, Mumbai was not available for a comment.