2 Indigo Airplanes Were About To Collide Over Bengaluru Airport: Then This Happened
Two IndiGo planes narrowly avoided colliding with each other mid-air on the morning of January 7, averting what could have been one of the biggest tragedies in Indian aviation.
Breach Of Separation
The incident happened just after their take-off over the Bengaluru airport, at an altitude of 3,000 feet.
The two IndiGo planes were 6E455 (Bengaluru to Kolkata) and 6E246 (Bengaluru to Bhubaneswar).
They were involved in a ‘breach of separation’ at Bengaluru airport, something which happens when two planes cross the minimum mandatory vertical or horizontal distance in an airspace.
One Runway, Two Planes Taking Off
They both departed from the Bengaluru airport within a span of approximately 5 minutes.
Sources said that the north and south runways of the airport are not used for simultaneous departures since planes taking off from the same distance can intersect with each other.
On that morning, the north runway was being used for departures and the south was assigned for arrivals.
However, the latter was then shut by the shift in charge, who then decided to use only the north runway for both landings and take-offs.
No Communication Between Towers
This information was not relayed to the air traffic controller of the south tower.
As a result of this negligence, the south tower allowed the Kolkata-bound flight to take off.
At the same time, the north tower controller gave the green signal for the Bhubaneswar-bound plane to depart.
Now two planes were about to take off at the same time from the converging runways.
Hero Saves The Day
Fortunately, an alert approach radar controller was closely monitoring the airspace above the airport and intercepted to alert the aircraft.
The approach radar controller, 42-year-old Lokendra Singh, “gave a diverging heading (to the aircraft) and avoided a mid-air collision,” according to aviation regulator DGCA’s preliminary report.
After he alerted the pilots, one plane swerved sharply to the left and the other to the right, avoiding the collision.
The incident was discovered during routine surveillance, and brought to light a lack of coordination among ATCs of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and lapses in reporting of the incident.
The clearances by the south and north tower controllers were given without coordination.
It was not logged in any logbook nor was it reported by the AAI by local authorities, which is being suspected as an attempt to cover up to avoid a probe and punishment.
Scale Of Averted Disaster
At risk were the lives of a total of 426 people- 176 passengers and 6 crew aboard th 6E455 and 238 passengers and 6 crew on the 6E246.
DGCA chief Arun Kumar said that it is investigating the incident and will take stringent action on “those found delinquent”.