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7 miles from landing: What happened moments before the Mumbai plane crash

Last communication recorded when flight was seven nautical miles away from landing at Juhu aerodrome; visibility was too low, say experts.

mumbai Updated: Jun 29, 2018 19:04 IST
Neha LM Tripathi
Neha LM Tripathi
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Mumbai plane crash,Ghatkopar,Flight path
The aircraft crashed into a construction site in Ghatkopar (west) on Thursday afternoon.(Vijayanand Gupta/HT Photo)

Had the chartered plane continued its run for three-four minutes more, the five lives would have been saved on Thursday, according to experts.

According to a senior Airport Authority of India official, the last communication between air traffic controller (ATC) and the pilot was reported when the aircraft was seven miles away from landing. The plane, which took off at 12.20pm, crashed at an under-construction site in Ghatkopar at 1.11pm, when it was four nautical miles away from Juhu Aerodrome, the spot where its journey started and was to end.

cctv :

Aircraft from Mumbai (airport) ATC get in touch with the Juhu ATC, when it is two miles away from the runway. “Owing to geographical conditions, flights for Juhu, too, follow the same flight path as the ones landing in Mumbai. However, flights deviate towards the right to land at Juhu aerodrome. In this case, the pilot was asked to intimate when he deviates right towards Juhu. He deviated to Juhu when the flight was at a height of around 400ft, but the Mumbai ATC was not intimated,” the official said.

As the flight started to deviate, Mumbai ATC sensed something was amiss and got in touch with the Juhu ATC. The ATC said the aircraft had flown north from Juhu for some 80 nautical miles towards Daman on the Maharashtra-Gujarat border, before turning south towards Mumbai. ATC officials said the flight was seen on the radar till it crashed.

A firefighter and members of public carry the body of a victim from the site of a plane crash in Mumbai, India, June 28, 2018. (REUTERS)

An official from the Airport Authority of India (AAI), which manages Juhu airport, said the aircraft didn’t send any distress signals.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), in the afternoon, the visibility in Juhu was 1,500m or 1.5km. Aviation experts said a visibility of minimum 5,000 metres (5km) is needed for such flights. Officials said that test flights are preferably allotted to fly over sea as there is less air traffic. “Routes are allotted on the basis of the flight plans filed by the operator,” said a Juhu aerodrome official.

Also Read | How could you let them test a flight in such bad weather, ask pilots’ families

Meanwhile, political leaders across the state expressed shock. CM Devendra Fadnavis said: “Had it not been a construction site, it would have caused a great loss of life and property,” said Fadnavis. Civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu directed the DGCA to conduct an investigation into the crash.

BJP MP Kirit Somaiya who was the first to reach the site raised various questions on the incident.