Probe hangs fire even a month after president’s chopper incidentMarch 9th, 2009 - 3:00 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, March 9 (IANS) Even a month after President Pratibha Patil’s entourage of three helicopters nearly missed colliding with an Air India aircraft in Mumbai, little progress is seen on the ground in ascertaining who was at fault - the air traffic controllers or the pilots.
A nine-member probe team headed by the joint director general with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, A.K. Chopra, gave his report to the regulator a week after the incident that occurred on Feb 9.
But the civil aviation watchdog is yet to make the probe report public, even as it says that the director general himself, Naseem Zaidi, will investigate the incident.
“We are looking into the matter,” is all Zaidi said, when queried by reporters on the sidelines of an aviation conference here Friday.
The incident involved a New Delhi-bound Air India aircraft with 170 passengers and a 10-member crew on board, which just before takeoff nearly crashed into an entourage of three choppers of the Indian Air Force, one of which was ferrying President Pratibha Patil.
The regulator has been on the back foot ever since Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Fali H. Major, defended his pilots who were commanding the entourage of helicopters and put the blame on air traffic controllers (ATC).
“The air force choppers were not at fault and were given clearance to land on the runway by the ATC. The IAF helicopters were not told to change the frequencies and no pilot can change it without being asked to do so,” he had said.
Major also called for the need to fine tune procedures by the regulatory authority.
The watchdog then had declined to be drawn into the blame game and has since been maintaining that the probe was underway. It had temporarily suspended the concerned air traffic controller, pending the probe.
The regulator also maintained that the officers at the ATC manning the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai were aware of the presidential visit and were closely watching the approach movement of her entourage.
Aviation ministry officials said probe on anther incident a day later, this time over a near mid-air collision involving an Air India aircraft and an Indian Air Force cargo plane, over Assam was also hanging fire.
The Air India plane carrying 45 from Dibrugarh in Assam to Kolkata came close to an IL-76 cargo plane of the air force, when both of them were flying at an altitude of about 17,000 feet over the Jorhat airspace.
- Dhruv choppers grounded after crash - Oct 20, 2011
- Single engine and bad weather, recipe for air disaster: experts - May 26, 2011
- Mumbai near-collision probe continues, Air Force defends pilots - Feb 11, 2009
- Andhra orders probe into 'misuse' of official chopper - May 13, 2012
- Aborted take-off by Air India Express pilot being probed: DGCA - Jan 27, 2012
- IAF choppers can't be blamed for Mumbai near mishap: air chief - Feb 11, 2009
- Mumbai near-miss blame game continues, Patil joins issue with IAF (Lead) - Feb 11, 2009
- Report submitted on near-collision of President's chopper - Jun 23, 2009
- Reports of near-misses in Delhi untrue: Airport authority - May 20, 2011
- Ministry to set up Faridabad air crash probe panel - May 26, 2011
- Pakistan scrambled jet to intercept Indian chopper - Oct 24, 2011
- Probe into near-disaster at Mumbai airport begins - Feb 10, 2009
- Meghalaya wants probe against pilots flouting safety norms - Jun 17, 2011
- Traffic controllers taken off duty over Mumbai near-disaster - Feb 10, 2009
- Air India pilot sights chopper on Mumbai runway, aborts take-off - Feb 09, 2009
Tags: air chief marshal, air force one, air india, air staff, air traffic controller, air traffic controllers, aviation conference, blame game, chhatrapati shivaji international airport, chopra, civil aviation, directorate general, entourage, fali, fine tune, h major, indian air force, member crew, president pratibha patil, probe team