An aircraft operated by the BSF, which was carrying Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi from Srinagar to Delhi Friday morning, was involved in a mid-air scare after coming within “500m to 1 km” of an in-bound IndiGo plane, sources in the security establishment told The Indian Express.
An accident was averted at the last minute, with IndiGo claiming that its aircraft’s automatic collision avoidance system alerted its pilots to take evasive action.
A BSF official said Mehrishi, who was in Srinagar on an official visit, had boarded the BSF flight at around 11:30 IST. Around 12 noon, the official said, the pilot realised that he was on a collision course with an IndiGo flight and changed course “in the nick of time”.
“What we have learnt is that the flights were barely at a distance of 500m to 1km. A complaint has been lodged with the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) about it, which will look into how two flights came on the same line. The routes are managed by air traffic control,” said the official.
An IndiGo spokesperson said the private airline’s pilot alerted air traffic control, but before ATC could react, the aircraft’s traffic collision avoidance system-resolution advisory (TCAS-RA) alerted the pilots, prompting them to steer to a safer distance.
“IndiGo flight 6E-653 (Delhi- Srinagar) was maintaining FL 260 (26000 feet), reciprocal aircraft was climbing out of FL 250 (25000 feet), when our pilot alerted the Air Traffic Control, but before the ATC could react, TCAS-RA alerted our aircraft to take action to avoid any untoward situation. IndiGo pilot followed SOPs and filed the necessary report. IndiGo proactively informed the regulator,” the spokesperson said.
The TCAS, which is an ATC-independent aircraft collision avoidance system, monitors airspace around the airplane for other aircraft equipped with a similar equipment. The system is mandated by International Civil Aviation Organization, to be equipped on all aircraft with a maximum take-off mass of over 5,700 kg or authorised to carry more than 19 passengers.
The official spokespersons of the Home Ministry and the BSF refused to confirm or deny the incident. DGCA B S Bhullar and joint-DGCA Lalit Gupta did not respond to e-mail queries seeking information on the incident.