Kolkata’s Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (NSCBIA) has been fined INR 20 Lakh for violating safety rules by neglecting runway norms. India’s aviation regulatory body, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) conducted a safety audit for airports and found critical safety violations in the runway maintenance work. DGCA has also issued a show cause notice to the Kolkata airport in the event of serious violations in security norms.
The audit report shows negligence in maintenance of the runway at Kolkata airport. The lights on the runway were not fixed properly and Foreign Object Debris (FOD) was reported to be found on the runway. Although the Airports Authority of India did not comment on the incident, there has been an internal committee setup to look into the matter.
Meanwhile, a rare incident has occurred at the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru. Two Indigo flights miraculously avoided a collision after being cleared for take off simultaneously in the same direction. Three air traffic controllers (ATCO) are held responsible for the day’s mid-air scare. DGCA has completed its preliminary inquiry and is likely to take strict action soon. According to official sources, a show cause notice will be issued to those found responsible and could lead upto licence suspension of the three ATCOs.
The near miss incident took place on the 7th of January, 2022. Kempegowda International airport’s North runway was meant for take offs and the south runway for landings. The shift in-charge (WSO) decided to use the north runway for both take offs and landings. During this time, the south runway was meant to be closed for operations but wasn’t. This message was not conveyed with the south tower controller. As a result the south tower controller gave departure clearance to the Kolkata bound 6E-455. The serious lack of coordination resulted in the north tower controller giving nod to the Bhubaneswar bound 6E-246. Both aircrafts had almost 430 people onboard and were moving towards each other. Lokendra Singh, an Alert Approach Radar Controller (AARC) noticed the situation and diverted the planes to the opposite directions. It is his presence of mind and timely action that avoided a collision.
The Bengaluru mid-air near miss is seen as a serious communication flaw, therefore the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) will probe the matter.
Since Air traffic controllers are employees of the AAI and DGCA is the licensing authority over ATCOs, they are likely to recommend further proceedings against the ATCOs. But suspending the licence of an aviation professional like ATCOs and pilots could result in financial losses for the period they are unable to work. According to some sources, the incident was not recorded in any logbooks and AAI too didn’t report the matter. But the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Arun Kumar has ordered a probe and assured that strict action will be taken against those who are responsible.