Two Mumbai-bound flights, carrying around 200 passengers, came close to breaching the vertical safety distance prescribed by the aviation regulator, on Wednesday. The error was quickly rectified and both the flights landed safely.
Around 10am, when an Indigo Airlines flight was about to land in the city from Bangalore, the pilot noticed a resolution advisory generated by the traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) in the aircraft.
The system advises pilots on traffic in the proximity of the aircraft. It issues a warning when an aircraft is 2.1 nautical miles or 40 seconds above or below another aircraft. In this case, the aircraft was in close proximity to a city-bound Spicejet flight from Chennai.
The Indigo aircraft was at a height of 38,000 feet, while the Spicejet flight was at 34,000 feet high when they entered the city airspace.
“Acting on the warning, the pilot corrected the aircraft’s position, thus avoiding a safety breach,” said a senior ATC official, on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Confirming the incident, a spokesperson of Indigo Airlines said, “A Bangalore-Mumbai flight (6E-482) got a resolution advisory generated by the traffic collision avoidance system. There was no traffic advisory issued by the air traffic controller.”
Despite repeated attempts, Spiceject officials remained unavailable for comment. Till the time of going to the press, it was not clear whether both the airlines had reported the incident to the air traffic controller and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which is a mandatory procedure, or not.
The DGCA will probe the cause of the incident. Although sources claimed that at 1500 feet/minute the Indigo flight’s rate of descent was higher than required, it will be verified only after the probe is completed.