On Thursday, 1st November 2018, two IndiGo planes, one headed to Guwahati from Chennai and one travelling from Guwahati to Kolkata, were just seconds away from a collision, and this accident would have resulted in the death of hundreds of passengers.
Thankfully, the quick action of an Air Traffic Control (ATC) officer, averted a near-certain mid-air collision.
Speaking to PTI, a senior official of the Airports Authority of India said, “Both the aircraft, belonging to low-cost carrier IndiGo, had come on the same level on Wednesday evening and posed a threat to both the aeroplanes… One aircraft was going to Guwahati from Chennai and the other from Guwahati to Kolkata. The planes had come close to each other around 5:10 p.m.”
The standard gap between two aircraft in terms of both, the vertical distance and lateral distance must be a minimum of 1000 ft.
And this rule was maintained till an instruction from the Bangladesh ATC brought the two flights too close to each other.
The Kolkata-bound flight was flying at 36,000 ft in the Bangladesh airspace while the Guwahati-bound flight was safely flying at 35,000 ft. This was when the Bangladesh ATC asked the former to descend to 35,000 ft, breaking the 1000 ft rule.
It is still unclear as to whether the pilots of the Kolkata-bound flight received a warning from the Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS) or the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). But the pilots followed the instructions given to them, coming dangerously close to the Guwahati bound aircraft.
The Kolkata ATC noticed this and without losing any time, instructed the Chennai-Guwahati flight to make an urgent right turn.
This helped them get away from the descending Kolkata-bound flight and avert a dangerous mid-air collision.
The names of the officials who helped avert this accident are still unknown, and the AAI is investigating what happened exactly.
Earlier this year, two Air India pilots had saved the lives of over 370 passengers even when their aircraft systems were failing. The incredible story of how they successfully attempted a “non-precision” approach, something they were not trained for, will amaze you. Read it here.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)