This time, ATC gets its dates wrong

After Mumbai’s Air Traffic Control (ATC) ‘forgot’ to preserve the audio and visual recordings of two close shaves that occurred on the runway on February 8 and March 12, it has now messed up the dates of a similar incident that took place on May 6 in the order issued to the DGCA to preserve the audio-visual recordings of the instructions it issued. The data would have been deleted within 60 days as per protocol. 

File pic used for representation

The preliminary report that Jayant Dasgupta, general manger, ATC, Mumbai, sent to the Director of Aviation Safety for Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) clearly states that the incident took place on May 7. “Preliminary Investigation Report runway incursion by SEJ 151 at Mumbai on May 7, 2012,” is the subject of the letter, a copy of which available with Sunday MiD DAY.

The incident
Air India flight AIC 809 Mumbai-Delhi was issued clearance to enter the runway for take off on May 6. At the same time, pilots saw that SpiceJet flight SEJ 151 Mumbai-Bengaluru also entered the same runaway through another taxiway.

This happened because the ATC had relayed the same instructions to both pilots. The ATC should have reconfirmed the instruction and given clearance to the AI flight which was scheduled to take off before SpiceJet. The ATC allegedly failed to notice that there was no read back from the AIC 809 and also failed to see that the SpiceJet was also moving towards the runway on the radar. However, to cut down delay, the SpiceJet flight was allowed to depart first even though it was scheduled to depart after Air India. The matter is being investigated by the DGCA.

Sources also revealed that the Bengaluru mistake was identified just a few days before the July 6 deadline to request for the audio-visual tapes.

According to the existing guidelines the ATC General Manager (GM), has to send an intra-office note to the CNS (Communication, Navigation & Surveillance) GM in order to request the preservation and sealing of records, both audio and video, after which they are saved till investigations end. Unless such instructions are issued, all recorded data from flights are erased after 60 days. 

Despite repeated attempts, A K Sharma, regional executive director, Airports Authority of India (AAI), was unavailable for comment. 

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