Milind Deora writes to aviation minister over lax safety protocols at Mumbai airport | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

Milind Deora writes to aviation minister over lax safety protocols at Mumbai airport

Jun 13, 2024 06:03 PM IST

The MP has sought an inquiry into a recent incident involving an IndiGo aircraft landing while an Air India flight was taking off on the same runway

MUMBAI: Shiv Sena Member of Parliament Milind Deora has written to Civil Aviation Minister Ram Mohan Naidu, urging for enhanced safety protocols at Mumbai airport and a comprehensive inquiry into a recent incident involving an IndiGo aircraft landing while an Air India flight was simultaneously taking off on the same runway.

Shiv Sena MP Milind Deora. HT Photo
Shiv Sena MP Milind Deora. HT Photo

In his letter to Naidu, Deora emphasised the severity of the situation, stating, "This incident, considering the airport's current handling of over 1,000 flights daily, highlights the critical risks associated with runway congestion and poses a severe threat to passenger safety."

The MP called for immediate attention and action to prevent the recurrence of such dangerous lapses. He requested an exhaustive investigation into the incident to identify the underlying causes and any procedural or systemic failures that contributed to the near-miss.

Deora also called for a review and reinforcement of existing safety protocols to mitigate risks associated with runway congestion and ensure robust mechanisms are in place to prevent similar incidents in the future. Additionally, he urged for a thorough assessment of the airport's infrastructure and the exploration of viable options for capacity expansion to manage the high volume of air traffic more safely and efficiently.

Following the incident, the Air Traffic Control (ATC) has already dismissed one of its officers. Mangala Narsimhan, a former deputy general manager of aviation safety at the Airports Authority of India (AAI), had previously raised concerns about similar incidents. In 2013, she warned through emails that the spacing and time intervals between arrivals and departures at Mumbai airport were being reduced unnecessarily below safety limits, primarily at the behest of Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), to create propaganda that the airport could handle 54 movements per hour.

Narsimhan, who was dismissed in 2018 for her outspokenness, revealed that her warnings had resulted in many dangerous "double-decker situations" where a plane takes off, and an arriving plane is too close behind it, forcing the latter to perform a go-around or missed approach due to the ATC tower controller's inability to give landing clearance in time.

"When I raised the alarm from 2013 onwards, the general manager of ATC in Mumbai stopped informing me about such go-arounds and other air safety incidents at Mumbai airport," Narsimhan said. "This has become counterproductive because hiding air safety incidents results in cover-ups while the basic problem continues and worsens."

In response to the recent incident, the AAI reissued a circular on Monday instructing air traffic controllers to strictly adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOP) on maintaining separation between flights landing and taking off at Mumbai airport. The circular stated, "The preliminary investigation into the details of the incident suggests a violation of the revised SOP for Time-Based Spacing between arrivals at the Mumbai airport."

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