Monday, March 14, 2022

How many near-collisions have taken place in Indian sky in 5 years?

New Delhi: In five years, 162 "breach of separation" incidents have happened, DGCA said. An average of 32 such incidents per year happened in Indian airspace. Breach of separation happens when two aircraft come closer than prescribed mandatory distance.

Earlier this year, a news report created panic for frequent fliers when on January 19, senior officials of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said that a major tragedy was averted over Bengaluru's skies. The report said that two passenger flights of IndiGo airlines nearly collided moments after take-off. The near-mishap, which happened on January 7, was averted after a radar controller saw the impending crisis and took corrective actions. More than 400 lives were at risk.

Officials of the DGCA said that the two IndiGo planes were involved in a “breach of separation” at Bengaluru airport. A "breach of separation" happens when aircraft cross the minimum mandatory vertical or horizontal distance separating airspace from another aircraft.

This particular incident was not recorded in any logbook nor was it reported to the DGCA by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). The aviation controller said that it was probing how the error took place and assured “strictest action” against those found responsible.

How frequently do such breaches of separation occur over Indian airspace? Who all were involved in past incidents if any? And what action is or has been taken, if any, against such erring pilots or officials?

India Today filed a Right to Information query with the DGCA to seek answers to these questions.

The DGCA replied stating that it had records for only five years. It said, “As per record retention schedule of DGCA, the incident records are maintained for 5 years period.”

So, as per DGCA records, in the last five years alone, 162 "breach of separation" incidents have taken place and that means an average of 32 such incidents per year. If we factor in the pandemic shut down of 2020 the average would be much higher.

The aviation controller, however, refused to divulge further details regarding the exact nature of danger involved. In its response, the DGCA said, “The details of Airprox incidents is a safety information which is protected from disclosure under para 17 of CAR Section-1 Series-C Part-I available on DGCA website."

14/03/22 Ashok Upadhyay/India Today

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