Delay by the Air Traffic Control (ATC) in giving permission to Air India (AI) flight AI 929 bound for Riyadh to take off led to Friday's confusion at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport in which the same runway was used by Emirates and SriLankan Airlines flight to take off and land within one minute.
The Air Traffic Controller's nod to Emirates flight EK 521 bound for Dubai to take off when the AI 929 flight operated using a 747-400 aircraft was awaiting clearance for the same led to the confusion, and the subsequent inquiry by Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) E.K. Bharat Bhushan into the incident, highly placed airport sources told The Hindu.
The commander of the AI Jumbo flight that can fly 423 passengers waited for five minutes to get the nod to take off. Sources said the permission was given to the Emirates flight on the ground that the request came first from the Dubai-based airline. This irked AI flight commander Captain Gill and he brought the issue to the notice of the airport and the airline authorities.
Capt. Gill is learnt to have given the complaint, although the commanders of the other two airlines had not reported anything. No incident report had been made.
Sources said the AI flight commander had not followed decorum during communication over the radio phone while demanding an early take-off.
The ATC officials had brought this to the notice of S. Dorairaj, Senior Air Safety Officer, DGCA, Chennai, who arrived here on Saturday to conduct the inquiry.
The Emirates flight with 241 passengers took off from runway 32 at 11.10 a.m. and the SriLankan Airlines flight UL 161 with 154 passengers from the island nation's capital landed at 11.11 a.m. Sources said the SriLankan flight landed on the runway only after the Emirates flight was airborne and all safety precautions were followed.
Meanwhile, Mr. Dorairaj met Airport Director G. Chandramouli, Joint General Manager (Air Traffic Management) Shibu Roberts who conducted the preliminary inquiry, and Joint General Manager (Communication) Rajan George. He also verified radar data and the communication between the flight commanders and the ATC.
Sources said the DGCA would decide on sending a second team and take action, if needed, on the report submitted by Mr. Dorairaj. The Air Traffic Controller on duty had been grounded.