Two Air Traffic Control officials in Mumbai were on Tuesday taken off duty pending an inquiry by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) into the near- miss between an Air India plane and a helicopter belonging to the President’s entourage.
The action came as an eight-member DGCA-appointed probe team,led by Joint Director General (Investigation) A K Chopra,began investigation into the incident which had the potential of leading to a major disaster on Monday.
“The two officials,one a Tower Controller and another a Radar Controller,have been disengaged from their present ATC unit in view of the yesterday’s incident,” Mumbai ATC General Manager,M G Jhungare said.
“It is a normal exercise which is carried out after any incident,wherein the officials under probe are not allowed to work at their place,” he said,adding “they have not been suspended”.
The DGCA inquiry,however,cleared two pilots of the Air India plane — Captain S S Kohli and Capt A Dewan and they can resume flight duties with immediate effect,sources said.
The Air India plane,with 150 passengers on board,almost hit the helicopter belonging to the President’s entourage at Mumbai airport runway but a collision was averted as the pilot of the aircraft applied emergency brakes,bringing it to a screeching halt.
The Delhi-bound IC-866,an Airbus A-321 aircraft,was about to take off when the pilot saw one of the three Air Force helicopters which was carrying the Presidential staff.