A two-member committee from the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) will investigate the close shave for an Air India and a Vistara flight over the Mumbai airport on February 7. A mid-air disaster was averted when Vistara’s UK 997, a Pune-bound aircraft from Delhi, came within a distance of 100 feet from Air India’s AI 631 flight to Bhopal. There were 261 passengers on board both the flights (Vistara – 152 and Air India -109).
The incident took place after 8 pm on February 7. The AAIB team will probe the cause. “An investigation in-charge and an investigator have been appointed to probe the matter. The preliminary report would be out in 10 to 15 days,” B S Rai, the chief of the AAIB, told The Indian Express. The team will be headed by Jitender Loura, the Assistant Director, AAIB.
Officials from the Mumbai Air Traffic Control (ATC) said a preliminary report was sent to the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). “We have sent a preliminary report about the incident to the DGCA. It contains facts and details of the case,” a senior ATC official said. “We expect the arrival of AAIB team this week. We will assist them in the investigation, including sealing flight data records and going over the pilots’ conversations in detail,” Rajiv Saxena, the General Manager, ATC, Mumbai said.
Senior ATC officials hinted at the dangers posed by operating flights using a bottle-neck single runway. “Mumbai airport operates at its maximum capacity. There are more than 900 flights operational on the single runway, which is a Herculean task. The incident reflects the need to have an alternative to the Mumbai airport,” an ATC official said.
The plot and the co-pilot on the Vistara flight were de-rostered by the airline and by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). “In this particular incident, the Resolution Advisory (RA) got triggered due to conflicting traffic. Our pilot followed the SOP to avoid it and carried out an uneventful landing. The matter is under investigation by relevant authorities,” said a Vistara spokesperson.