Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Mamata: Pilot’s presence of mind averted disaster

Kolkata/New Delhi: Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on Monday said she was still suffering from back and chest pain after her Dassault Falcon 2000 chartered aircraft travelling from Lucknow to Kolkata had to dive 8,000ft on Friday.

She praised the pilot, saying it was his efficiency that averted a disaster with another aircraft. A formal report from DGCA was awaited, she added.

Responding to questions on her way to the assembly, CM Banerjee said: “It was not bad weather. It could have been a disaster had not the pilot applied his mind and skills to avert an accident. He deftly dropped the aircraft 8,000ft to avert a collision.”

Airport officials said the nearest aircraft was a turboprop ATR aircraft 30km away, which was not close enough to cause any infringement or any wake turbulence (which could happen if a much bigger aircraft passes 1,000ft over a small aircraft).

“Planes have to maintain a horizontal separation of 10km within a 110km radius of Kolkata airport and 1,000ft vertical separation. Neither of these was breached,” an air traffic controller said.

Officials reviewing Friday’s incident have found that the Falcon’s pilot started descent for touchdown much later than he should have, leading to a steeper rate of descent to land in Kolkata.

A preliminary probe by the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has indicated the aircraft did not suffer any serious turbulence but there was some “clear air turbulence”.

The Dassault Falcon 2000 was at 6,000ft when the pilot saw clouds ahead. He checked with the Kolkata ATC whether there was an aircraft nearby; there was no other aircraft within 4 nautical miles of the flight, people in the know indicated.

“We are investigating (the case). A CAT was experienced and was avoided by deft manoeuvre by the flight crew and the flight was uneventful,” a senior DGCA official said

According to Flightradar 24, a global flight tracking service that provides real-time information about thousands of aircraft around the world, the plane started descending from 37,000ft around 185km from Kolkata, leading to a much higher rate of descent at 3,000ft per minute that increased to 3,800ft per minute till 4,000ft. The time when descent started was 3.05pm.

08/03/22 Times of India

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