In a terrifying incident that could have resulted in hundreds of deaths, two IndiGo aircraft are said to have averted a mid-air collision on Wednesday, October 31. The two planes were flying in the airspace over the India-Bangladesh border.
The aircraft were only 45 seconds apart and the collision was averted when the Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower in Kolkata asked one of the planes to change its path.
"Both the aircraft, belonging to low cost carrier IndiGo, had come on the same level on Wednesday evening and posed a threat to both the aeroplanes," a senior AAI official at the Kolkata airport told the Press Trust of India.
While one was a Chennai-Guwahati flight, at 35,000 ft in the Indian airspace, the other one was flying to Kolkata from Guwahati at 36,000 ft in the Bangladesh airspace. The Bangladesh ATC is then said to have asked the Kolkata-bound flight at 36,000 ft to descend to 35,000 ft and that is when the two aircraft came close.
Noticing that the planes were just 45 seconds apart at around 5.10 pm, an official of the Kolkata ATC instructed the Guwahati-Kolkata flight to turn right and move away.
As of now, it is not known if the pilots were alerted of the risk by the Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS) or the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) fitted in the aircraft. The AAI official has now said that an investigation will be carried out, after which all the details will be known.
However, IndiGo airlines appears to be unaware of the incident and the spokesperson told PTI thus: "We have no such information as of now."
This is the second such IndiGo incident reported this year. On July 10, two IndiGo aircraft had averted a mid-air collision over Bengaluru. The two aircraft came very close to each other mid-air, but a collision was avoided in the nick of time, reported ANI.
The two planes were reportedly four miles away from each other and separated by a vertical distance of 200 feet. The flights later landed and all the passengers were deplaned safely.
Speaking of the incident, IndiGo Airlines said in a statement: "The TCAS-Resolution Advisory system was triggered on two of our aircraft operating Coimbatore-Hyderabad and Bangalore-Cochin routes respectively on July 10. Following normal procedure, this has been reported to the regulator."
In May 2018, another IndiGo aircraft came extremely close to an aircraft of the Indian Air Force in the Chennai airspace. The passenger jet then moved away after an auto-generated warning was sounded in the plane.
While these collisions may have been averted, the KLM disaster on March 27, 1977, in Spain still sends a chill down one's spine. About 538 people were killed when a KLM aircraft attempted to take off without clearance and collided with a taxiing Pan Am flight.