Aviation regulator DGCA has suspended an air traffic controller for three months for approving simultaneous departures of IndiGo flights at the Bengaluru airport on January 7 which led to them coming too close just after takeoff.
The two IndiGo flights — 6E455 (Bengaluru to Kolkata) and 6E246 (Bengaluru to Bhubaneswar) — averted a mid-air collision over the Bengaluru airport just after their simultaneous take off from the north runway and south runway, respectively, on January 7 morning.
The incident was called “breach of separation”, which happens when two aircraft cross the minimum mandatory vertical or horizontal distance in the airspace.
In a statement on Monday, May 30 the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said, “South tower controller gave departure to 6E 455 in coordination with Approach Radar controller and at the same time North tower controller gave departure to 6E 246 without prior coordination with south tower controller and Approach Radar controller.”
As both aircraft after departure were on converging heading (moving towards each other), the Approach Radar controller gave diverging heading to separate these aircraft, the regulator noted.
“At the closest point of conflict, the vertical and lateral separation between both aircraft was 100 feet (Standard 1000ft) and 0.9 NM (Standard 3NM),” it said. This entire matter was classified as a “serious incident” and was investigated by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB), it noted.
Based on the regulatory assessment, the DGCA has decided to issue a “warning letter to Tower supervisor for not monitoring the activities of the ATC (air traffic controller) tower and non-reporting of the incident”, it said.
Also, the license of the “North tower controller who was also the watch supervisory officer (WSO) of the shift” has been suspended for three months as he did not follow procedures and rules regarding runway operations and he did not report the incident, the DGCA said.
The suspended controller has been charged with five counts, including not reporting the incident, violating the Aeronautical Information Publication (details of regulations, procedures) India for aircraft operation and failing to comply with coordination procedures during the change of runway operations from segregated mode to single mode.