An air traffic control (ATC) official taken off the roster pending inquiry, after a near air mishap at the Mumbai airport last month, had ample time to avoid the safety scare, suggests data from a movement tracking radar at the airport.
On December 30, a city-bound Jet Airways flight decided to abort landing at the last minute, after the pilot spotted an Indigo Airlines flight on the runway. According to data from the Surface Movement Radar (SMR), the incoming aircraft was around 65 seconds away from touchdown when the ATC official cleared the Singapore-bound Indigo aircraft for take-off. “The Indigo aircraft was at the end of taxiway November and going by the SMR reading, it was apparent that by the time it got airborne, the arriving aircraft would have come dangerously close,” said a senior ATC official.
The SMR, a ground-based radar, tracks movement of aircraft movement on ground and airborne planes within two nautical miles from the airport. The official said the SMR also gives the speed at which the aircraft were travelling and issues alerts if there is possibility of collision.
Although the ATC claimed that its Watch Supervisory Office sent a signal of a go-around, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said the incident was not reported formally. According to the standard operating procedure, the AAI should conduct a preliminary probe, take preventive action and send a formal email to the regulator. In this case, the controller was taken off roster only on January 4.
“Since the incident took place on a Sunday it is possibile that the information was not shared the same day. Preliminary investigation takes time,” said Jayant Dasgupta, general manager, ATC.
DGCA chief Arun Mishra was not available for comment.