Two aircraft departed from the Bengaluru airport within a span of approximately five minutes on the morning of January 9, and a serious mid-air collision was averted at the last minute.

An IndiGo flight in mid-airRepresentative Image
news Aviation Sunday, January 23, 2022 - 12:40

The three air traffic controllers (ATCO) who had handled the two IndiGo flights that nearly collided at the Kempegowda International Airport of Bengaluru, have been off-rostered by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The two flights were cleared to take off simultaneously in the same direction on January 7, 2022.

According to the Times of India, the DGCA completed its preliminary inquiry and that ‘strict enforcement action’ is likely, which could include the suspension of licenses of the ATCOs. A show cause notice will be issued as per the law, and action by multiple agencies may also be likely. As ATCOs are employees of Airports Authority of India, they can also take action and DGCA has oversight over ATCOs as licensing authority. Further, the incident being classified as a serious one, the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) will also probe the same, the report said.

The incident was not logged in any logbook and it was not reported by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) either. Meanwhile, the DGCA chief Arun Kumar had earlier told PTI that the regulator was investigating the incident and that it would take the strictest action “against those found delinquent".

Officials of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said that the two IndiGo planes — 6E455 (Bengaluru to Kolkata) and 6E246 (Bengaluru to Bhubaneswar) — were involved in 'breach of separation' at Bengaluru airport. Breach of separation happens when two aircraft cross the minimum mandatory vertical or horizontal distance in an airspace.

In its preliminary report, the DGCA had earlier said: "Later shift Incharge (WSO) decided for single runway operations i.e. North runway for arrival and departure. South runway was closed but it was not communicated to South Tower controller. South Tower controller gave departure to '6E 455' and at the same time North Tower controller gave departure to '6E 246' without coordination," the report said.

Both aircraft departed from the Bengaluru airport within a span of approximately five minutes on the morning of January 7. As per reports, the flights had reached a height of 3,000 feet before a radar controller noticed the error and alerted the pilots, who swerved in opposite directions to avoid a collision.

"As both aircraft, after departure, were on converging heading or moving towards each other, the approach radar controller gave diverging heading and avoided mid-air collision."

With PTI inputs