Delhi Air Traffic Controller Taken Off Duty After Aircraft Come Face-To-Face

NEW DELHI: An Air Traffic Controller was taken off duty by the aviation regulator DGCA after a major accident was averted at the Delhi airport on Tuesday morning as an IndiGo and a SpiceJet aircraft came face-to-face on the runway, allegedly because of “miscommunication”.

“The ATC who cleared the landing of IndiGo flight as well as allowed the SpiceJet aircraft, for Hyderabad, to leave the holding area for refuelling has been taken off the duty till the probe is completed,” sources told Press Trust of India.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA action against the controller came after the two aircraft, with 187 and 160 people on boards, came face-to-face barely 40 metres away on the taxiway.

However, a disaster was averted after pilots of both the planes alerted the air traffic control and switched off their engines.

Sources also alleged that the delay in arrival of the Follow-Me-Jeep, operated by the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), was also a contributing factor in the incident.

“Since the visibility was extremely poor at that time, SpiceJet commander requested for a Follow-Me-Jeep while leaving the holding area for refuelling to help it navigate. However, the jeep came after 15-20 minutes of the request. By this time SpiceJet aircraft had already left,” they said.

Sources, earlier in the day, had said that the SpiceJet aircraft was in the holding area due to poor visibility, awaiting ATC clearance.

However, when the clearance did not come for more than 90 minutes, the commander requested the ATC to allow the aircraft to leave the holding area for refuelling as a good amount of fuel had burnt by that time, which was allowed, sources said.

(With inputs from PTI)