An enquiry by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has found no fault with the air traffic control (ATC), whose reported lapse almost caused a disaster at Patna airport on Friday.
The AAI, while examining the role of the air traffic control officer (ATCO), has instead shifted the blame to the pilots of IndiGo and Kingfisher, the two airlines involved in the episode.
However, the directorate general of civil aviation, the body responsible for air safety in the country, is conducting a full-fledged probe into the matter.
The two aircraft, together carrying 336 persons, came within 1,800 metres of each other after the ATC supposedly gave clearance to an IndiGo plane to take off and asked a Kingfisher flight to land here on Friday evening. But the AAI report has indicated the IndiGo pilot, an expat by the name James Randell, delayed the takeoff. Though a plane normally takes off 30 seconds after the line-up, the report said the IndiGo pilot took 2-3 minutes on the runway. This resulted in an incoming Kingfisher aircraft closing in and climbing down to 50-100 feet above the runway before deciding to go in circles above the airport.
With both the planes heading in the same direction and coming too close, the ATCO asked the IndiGo pilot to hold position and apply the emergency brakes as the aircraft had started rolling on the runway for take-off. Airport director Arvind Dubey, however, declined to reveal the contents of the report, saying: "The report is confidential and has been forwarded to the DGCA."