Vistara, Air India flights narrowly avoid deadly mid-air collision

Monday, 12 Feb, 2018

Two Vistara pilots have been grounded. The following incident took place in Mumbai airspace after 8 PM when Air India's Airbus A-319 was flying from Mumbai to Bhopal as AI 631 and was at 27,000 feet in the air. Vistara was descending from its assigned level of 29,000 feet to 27,100 feet where an AI flight was coming in the opposite direction.

Mumbai: An Air India Mumbai-Ahmedabad flight had to abort takeoff after a minor fire was detected in the port engine at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport on Sunday. This meant that the vertical separation between the two aircrafts was merely 100 feet, while the lateral separation between them was 2.8km.

"In this particular incident, the resolution advisory (Traffic Collision Avoidance System or TCAS) got triggered due to conflicting traffic".

Air India is making necessary arrangements for an alternative aircraft to fly passengers to their destination, an Air India spokesperson said. Vistara's pilot followed the SOP (standard operating procedure) to avoid it and carried out an uneventful landing. "The matter is under investigation by the relevant authority", a Vistara spokesperson said.

The TOI report quoted a senior AI official as saying: "This was indeed a very close call". Prima facie, the happenings were a result of them not adhering to air traffic control's (ATC) instructions. "There must have been some serious confusion between air traffic control and Vistara pilots that led to this". On January 28, an IndiGo and Emirates flights breached the minimum separation limit over Nagpur.

A collision was averted after an automatic warning alerted the pilots of the two planes of being in close proximity to each other, an official said. An investigation on the incident has been launched by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AIBB).