Ahmedabad: A Delhi-bound plane of SpiceJet had to abort take-off at the last minute as an IndiGo flight could not clear the runway due to the presence of rabbits on the strip, averting a major mishap.
The incident, which took place last evening, has been reported to aviation regulator DGCA, which has initiated a probe into the matter, sources said.
SpiceJet's Delhi-bound aircraft had 142 passengers on board. IndiGo, however, did not share the number of passengers it was carrying on the plane.
"SpiceJet flight from Ahmedabad to Delhi, SG 912, was asked to enter backtrack runway and await departure clearance, pending runway clearance by an IndiGo flight. Once the IndiGo pilot confirmed to the Air Traffic Controller that the strip had been cleared, it allowed the flight to take off," sources said.
"However, seconds later, the controller noticed that the IndiGo flight had stopped on the exit taxi track with a portion of the aircraft still on the runway. This necessitated the ATC to advise SpiceJet to hold position, forcing the pilot to abort take off at the last minute," they said.
When contacted, a SpiceJet spokesperson said its flight had to abort take off at the last stage of taxiing due to the presence of another aircraft on the runway, while an IndiGo spokesperson said both aircraft were "well separated".
"On February 24, Spicejet Boeing 737-700 aircraft VT-SLB was scheduled to operate SG-912 (Ahmedabad-Delhi). The aircraft backtracked and lined up on the runway and was cleared by the ATC for take off.
"However, the ATC noticed that the previous flight of another airline, which had landed, had still had not vacated the runway. The controller instructed the SpiceJet pilots to hold position.
"Following the instructions, they rejected the take off and returned to the bay. At all times, the SpiceJet pilots followed the ATC instructions," SpiceJet spokesperson said in a statement.
IndiGo said its flight 6E-166 (Bengaluru-Ahmedabad) landed normally on Runway 23 at Ahmedabad. It was advised by the ATC to vacate via taxiway. As 6E-166 was vacating the strip, the flight crew observed some rabbits and stopped the aircraft, its nose in the taxiway and tail still on the runway," IndiGo said in the statement.
"During this period, the ATC cleared another aircraft to line and take-off and was subsequently heard twice calling out 'hold position', realising that 6E-116 had not fully vacated the runway," it said.