Mid-air Collision Between Two Indigo Flights Averted: Both Flights Took Off Same Time, Air Traffic Controller Suspended
An air controller has been suspended by the DGCA has suspended for three months. The suspension is because the air controller approved the simultaneous departures of two IndiGo flights.
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. These planes were 6E455 (Bengaluru to Kolkata) and 6E246 (Bengaluru to Bhubaneswar).
One Runway, Two Planes Taking Off
The incident happened just after their take-off over the Bengaluru airport, at an altitude of 3,000 feet.
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. 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. This information was not relayed to the air traffic controller of the south tower.
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.
DGCA Suspends Air Controller
The statement issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) states, “At the closest point of conflict, the vertical and lateral separation between both aircraft was 100 feet (compared to a standard 1,000 feet) and 0.9 nautical miles (compared to a standard 3 nautical miles).”
The DGCA has also suspended the license of the “North tower controller who was also the watch supervisory officer (WSO) of the shift.” The suspension is for three months as he failed to follow procedures and rules regarding the runway operations and he did not report the incident as well.
The incident has been marked as a “serious incident” and was also investigated by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB). Additionally, a warning letter has also been issued to the Tower supervisor for the absence of monitoring of the activities of the ATC (air traffic controller) tower and non-reporting of (the) incident.