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27th of August 2012

Flight aborts landing, given go-around to avoid collision (Mumbai, India)

Major air disaster averted at Mumbai airport

MUMBAI: A few moments of panic prevailed at Mumbai airport late on Wednesday night when a Jet Airways aircraft started rolling for take-off while an Air India (AI) flight was approaching to land at the same end of the main runway. The air traffic controller first asked the AI flight to make a go-around then asked the Jet airways flight to abort take-off, both within a minute, to prevent the two aircraft from coming on collision path. Both flights eventually completed the respective landing and take-off safely without a breach in separation, but the incident has been reported to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The DGCA is investigating the incident to ascertain if it was a precautionary decision or if one of the flights actually rolled late for take-off.

Officials at the airport said Jet Airways flight 9W 012 to Singapore was on the main runway for take-off. At 11.41pm, the flight, with 142 passengers on board, was given take-off clearance by the ATC. Around the same time, an AI flight from Riyadh was also making an approach for landing. The flight was asked to continue the approach till up to one mile from landing.

About a minute later, the Jet Airways flight started rolling for take-off. Sources said at this juncture, the controller felt the aircraft had taken a little longer to roll for take-off, while the AI flight was proceeding from behind to land. In an attempt to prevent the two flights coming too close for comfort 

, the controller first commanded the AI flight to turn and make a missed approach. In the next few seconds, he also commanded the Jet Airways flight to reject the take-off, a command the pilot could not execute as the aircraft was already rolling in full speed.

"It was a moment of confusion. The controller felt the Jet Airways flight had taken a few seconds longer to roll for take-off. Hence, he asked for the go-around and then asked for the take-off to be aborted, all in a matter of few seconds. The two aircraft may have come too close for comfort, but the 

situation was in control as the AI flight turned and missed its approach while the Jet flight took-off. The pilot could not reject take-off as the aircraft was past decision speed," an airport official familiar with the incident said. "A minute later, the Jet Airways pilot requested to speak to the tower staff and asked if he gave any instructions while taking off. The tower staff mentioned that he had asked him to reject takeoff, to which the 9W012 pilot told him that they were at a very high speed and could not monitor what the tower had said," he added. The AI flight finally landed 12 minutes late at 11.54pm.

A Jet Airways spokesperson said, "The commander was on a take off roll when he was informed by the ATC to reject take off. The commander of Jet Airways could not reject take off since he had gone past the decision speed. But it did not result in an unsafe situation."

ATC officials said that the incident has not been classified as a "near miss" as the separation between the two flights was appropriate to carry out a go-around. "We have reported it as a go-around. The AI flight was 1,600 feet above the Jet airways flight. This is the ideal separation between two flights and no near-collision situation was possible," said Jayant Dasgupta, general manager, ATC. "A flight can be asked to carry out a go-around if the controller or a pilot doesn't feel confident to execute the approach due to various factors. It is a notified procedure," he added.

Sequence of Events

11.41pm: Jet Airways flight 9W012, from Mumbai to Singapore, was given clearance for take off 

11.42 pm: Air India flight, AI, 920, Riyadh to Mumbai was told to continue approach up to one mile before landing

11.42 pm: Jet Airways flight started rolling and was ready to take-off when the AI flight was asked to go-around

11.42pm: ATC instructed the Jet Airways flight to reject take-off, but it was already in full speed for take-off

11.43 pm: Jet Airways commander requested to speak to the tower staff and asked him if he gave them any instructions while taking off. The tower staff mentioned that he had asked him to reject takeoff, to which the commander told him that they were at a very high speed and did not monitor what the tower had said

11.54 pm: AI flight landed on the main runway

Past Incidents

August 4,2012: A runway incursion was reported when a Jet Airways aircraft entered the main runway while an Etihad flight was coming in to land from the opposite side. The Jet aircraft,readying for take-off,was instructed to enter taxiway N1,but it went to taxiway N5.The aircraft had nearly entered the main runway when the pilot noticed an Etihad flight. A near-miss was eventually ruled out as the Etihad flight was still seven nautical miles away.

March, 2012: Three Jet Airways aircraft had a near-miss at the Mumbai airport. The Air Traffic Controller cleared a Mumbai-Udaipur flight for take-off. The flight was cleared for take-off although the runway was being vacated by another Jet flight, which had landed from Bhuj. A jetlite flight was also cleared for landing around the same time. the JetLite flight was asked to go around to keep the necessary separation.

October 12, 2010: A breach of separation was reported between two aircraft arriving. The two aircraft, one an Indigo flight and another a private chartered aircraft, reportedly came 3.5 miles from each other when the ideal distance is five miles.This separation was lost while the aircraft was still around 20 minutes from landing at Mumbai airport. A near-miss situation was prevented just in time when the controller saw the breach and corrected the separation.

February 9, 2009: An AI flight had to reject take-off after a helicopter from Pratibha Patil's convoy landed without prior warning or intimation. The chopper landed in the middle of the runway forcing an AI flight to abort take-off at a high speed.