Oops! IndiGo plane enters wrong runway due to 'low visibility'

IndioGo flight
IndioGo flight. Representational Pic

New Delhi: In a major fiasco, an IndiGo aircraft on Wednesday left its assigned lane, crossed the runway, and entered another taxiway where a Jet Airways plane was stationed, prompting the pilots to apply the brakes to avoid a collision and potential disaster at the Delhi airport today. 

The two pilots of the Visakhapatnam-bound IndiGo aircraft have been taken off duty, pending investigation, even as air safety regulator DGCA has started a probe into the incident which took place around 5:40 this morning.

As the IndiGo aircraft got stuck on the taxiway due to the want of a tow vehicle, Delhi airport's one of the main runways 10/28 remain shut for operations close to an hour, impacting operations badly, sources said.

"The two pilots have been derostered and would not been assigned flying, pending investigation," an IndiGo spokeperson said, confirming that the aircraft had "missed the runway centerline" due to low visibility and found itself in another taxiway.

"IndiGo flight 6E 719 (New Delhi-Visakhapatnam) was given taxi permission through C lane and was supposed to hold at
Runway 28 but the aircraft commander crossed the runway and realised he was standing in W lane, where a Jet Airways aircraft for Abu Dhabi was already stationed," airport sources said.

While IndiGo aircraft had 81 passengers onboard, Jet Airways Boeing 737 plane was carrying 142 passengers at the time of the mix-up, sources said. 

"Followings this, IndiGo was contacted to arrange push back tow but it took time, and due to poor visibility, tow was guided by a follow-me vehicle. 

"During this period all operations were on hold, causing heavy congestion and consequently flight delays as well," they said.

Many flights were delayed while some incoming aircraft were diverted due to the non-availability of runway 28 for almost an hour, sources said. 

In a statement, IndiGo said, "IndiGo flight 6E-719 while taxiing from taxiway C for runway 28 for departure with Runway Visual Range of 125 meters at Delhi airport missed the runway centerline due to low visibility and found itself taxiing towards taxiway W where a Jet Airways B737 aircraft was already stationed to be lined up."

The airline, however, said that its aircraft stopped at "adequate" separation distance of Jet Airways plane, when directed by the Air Traffic Controller. It was, however, unable to turn to line up.

"Keeping in mind the safety of passengers and aircraft, the Captain in Command took the decision to switch off the engines and pushed back to line up on runway 28, while following ATC instructions at times," the statement said.

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