On February 7, 261 lives aboard Air India’s flight number AI 631 and Vistara’s UK 997 were saved when a mid-air tragedy was averted. This was all thanks to the quick action and thinking of Air India Woman Pilot and senior commander, Captain Anupama Kohli.
AI’s Airbus A-319 (AI 631), en route from Mumbai to Bhopal, and Vistara’s A-320 Neo (UK 997), en route Delhi to Pune, were only seconds away from each other with a mere 100-feet between them, reported the Times of India.
The Vistara flight was descending from its assigned level of 29,000 feet to 27,100 feet, while the AI flight was coming in the opposite direction.
When AI Pilot, Captain Anupama Kohl saw the Vistara aircraft moving towards her from her left, she heard the Air Traffic Controller (ATC) and the woman pilot aboard Vistara’s UK 997 arguing.
The ATC asked the Vistara pilot why she was on that level, to which the Vistara pilot replied saying she was told by the ATC to be at that level.
When the Vistara aircraft kept moving closer, the red sign in Captain Kohli’s cockpit signalled that it was crossing her level now. A resolution advisory (RA) signalled her to climb. Moving in quick action, following the RA, Captain Kohli climbed and turned right.
She moved the AI aircraft away from the Vistara one, increasing the distance between them from a mere 100 feet to a safe 600 feet.
A likely collision was averted, as the aircrafts moved away from each other safely.
TOI reported that the Vistara plane at the time was manned by a lady co-pilot because the commander was on a toilet break. In his absence, as per protocol, an air hostess was present in the cockpit with the lady co-pilot.
The concerned authorities are probing if the miscommunication was a result of confusion among the air traffic controllers since both flights had women pilots on the controls. The ATC may have mixed-up the communication about what altitude instruction was given to which lady.
The air traffic controllers handling the Vistara and Air India flights have been suspended.
Air India, impressed by its captain’s feat, lauded Anupama Kohli. The woman pilot – with an experience spanning 20 years, showed grit and determination, to avert the major mid-air tragedy. We salute her!