Scare at Delhi airport, 4 aircraft in mix-up

An alert Air Traffic Control (ATC) averted a major accident involving four aircraft at the Indira Gandhi International Airport late on Monday evening.

Officials said the pilot of a small aircraft misread the instructions of the ATC and moved towards Runway 28-10 around 7 pm.

At the time, a Jet Airways (Boeing 737) was on the runway awaiting instructions for take-off, another Jet Airways plane was in the air preparing for landing and a private aircraft was moving towards the taxi-way after landing.

After noticing the movement of private unscheduled aircraft, ATC alerted pilots of both Jet Airways aircraft — one was told to abort take-off and the other was asked to "go around as the runway was occupied".

Director General of Civil Aviation Arun Mishra said it was a "minor incident". "The situation was handled well, no inquiry has been set up in this regard," Mishra told Newsline.

According to airport sources, the pilot of the private unscheduled aircraft with call sign VT-LTA entered Runway 28 by misreading an ATC instruction, which was meant for another plane with call-sign VT-CLA. ATC officials said the confusion was because of "similar sounding" call signs.

"When VT-CLA, a Cessna-560 of AR Airways, was asked to vacate runway on landing, the pilot of VT-LTA (a Hawker- Beechcraft 900XP of L&T Aviation Services), which was crossing over to Terminal 1-D from Terminal-3, misread the instruction and got on the runway," an ATC official said.

The Jet Airways Boeing 737 was ready for take-off to Doha, and another aircraft of the same airline was approaching from Chennai to land in Delhi, ATC sources said.

A senior ATC official said it as a case of runway incursion, a common phenomenon that is routinely handled by the ATC.

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