Vistara, Air India flights narrowly avert collision at 27,000 feet in Mumbai airspace

Vistara flight and an Air India flight averted a mid-air collision by seconds in the Mumbai airspace on 7 February, according to reports. The Vistara flight had descended to an altitude while the Air India plane was flying in the opposite direction, according to The Times Of India. The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau has launched a probe in the incident.

Representational image. PTI Representational image. PTI
The Vistara flight, UK 997, was on its way from Delhi to Pune, while Air India’s AI 631 was flying from Mumbai to Bhopal, reported Mid-Day. The report further said that while the Air India aircraft was maintaining a level of 27,000 feet, Vistara’s Airbus descended to a height of 27,100 feet, which means that the vertical separation between the two aircrafts was merely 100 feet.

Sources, quoted in an International Business Times report, said proximity of the two aircrafts had set off traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) alarms in the cockpits of the two flights, thus helping the pilots avoid the crash.

The commander of the Air India flight acted swiftly on the instrument warning and steered the aircraft to a safer distance, a senior official of the airline told PTI.

The two pilots of the Vistara flight have been grounded, pending investigation, while the Air India pilots have been cleared for flying by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau for not being at fault, the official added.

Following the incident, a Vistara spokesperson said in a statement, “The safety of our customers and staff is of paramount importance to us, and at Vistara, we diligently follow all the safety regulations and guidelines. In this particular incident, the resolution advisory (RA) got triggered due to conflicting traffic. Our pilot followed the SOP (standard operating procedure) to avoid it and carried out an uneventful landing. The matter is under investigation by relevant authorities,” said the statement mentioned in the International Business Times report.

Meanwhile an Air India official said, “The Air India aircraft was going as per the ATC instructions. There was no confusion. But it seems that something had gone wrong between the Vistara pilot and the ATC as the Vistara aircraft kept descending while the ATC was giving different instructions. There was some kind of an argument between them.”

“The Vistara aircraft continued descending. So, finally, when our pilot saw the warning (the Vistara aircraft breaching the mandatory separation) on board, she just took the corrective action and turned the aircraft from the collision point,” the airline said.

The Air India pilot’s action was perfect as she followed the resolution advisory and steered the aircraft to a safer distance, it added.