Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Mid-air collision between two Indigo flights averted at Bengaluru International Airport

A mid-air collision involving two Indigo domestic passenger flights was narrowly averted at the Kempegowda International Aircraft (KIA) recently. What is worse is that the incident was neither recorded in the logbooks nor was it reported by the Airports Authority of India to the country's aviation regulator, both of which are mandatory.

It was the lack of communication among controllers at the Air Traffic Control room that was responsible for the incident that occurred around 8.45 am on January 7.

DGCA Director-General Arun Kumar told The New Indian Express that Flight No. 6E 455 heading from Bengaluru to Kolkata and Flight No. 6E 246 on the way from Bengaluru to Bhubaneswar were involved in 'breach of separation' at Bengaluru airport.

"Put simply, this technical term refers to a situation where sufficient distance was not maintained between two flights either laterally or vertically which is an alarming situation," explained a senior pilot. Kumar said both the North Runway (for departures) and South Runway (for arrivals) were in use at KIA in the morning of the incident. 

"Later , the shift in-charge decided to go in for single runway operations and opted to make use of the North Runway for both arrivals and departures. The South Runway was closed but that was not communicated to the Controller in the South Tower. As a result, he gave the green signal for the flight to Kolkata to depart, while the North Tower controller permitted the flight to Bhubaneswar to depart. There was no coordination between them," he added.

The aircraft departed at almost the same time and were approaching each other. "The approach radar control gave the command for diverging which averted a mid-air collision," he explained. The incident has not been recorded in any of the logbooks nor has AAI reported about it, he added.

An aviation expert said a breach of separation incident could have serious consequences. "The impact can range from mild scratches to the flights to a head-on collision. Many upgraded systems are in place to ensure such incidents never happen but still they occur on and off," he said. Indigo did not want to comment, while airport operator, BIALsaid they were not aware of the incident.

19/01/22 S Lalitha/New Indian Express

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