Investigating the Skies: DGCA Probes Near Miss at Mumbai Airport

A potentially catastrophic incident was narrowly avoided at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport last week, where an Air Astana aircraft inadvertently entered an active runway, intersecting the path of an accelerating Air India plane preparing for takeoff. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is currently investigating the incident, which could have resulted in a devastating collision.

On February 22, at 3 p.m., an Airbus A320 of Air Astana was taxiing for takeoff to Almaty. Instead of following the designated taxiway parallel to the active runway, the aircraft took a wrong turn, entering a taxiway that intersected with the active runway.

At the critical moment when the Air Astana aircraft crossed the active runway, an Air India Airbus A319, accelerating for takeoff to Doha, had already reached a speed of 40 knots. In a swift response to the potential collision, the Air India crew rejected takeoff, avoiding a disastrous scenario. Meanwhile, an IndiGo aircraft approaching from Nagpur executed a go-around, aborting its landing to make a second attempt.

The incident resulted in a one-hour delay for Air India’s departure to Doha. The DGCA, responsible for aviation safety, is actively investigating the matter. However, none of the involved airlines or the Air Traffic Controller had reported the incident, as per a senior DGCA official.

Mumbai airport, known for its high traffic volume, witnesses between 44 to 42 aircraft movements (takeoff and landing) per hour. Due to the intersecting runways that cannot be used simultaneously, the airport often faces congestion, causing delays and requiring aircraft to hover for extended periods before landing.

To address congestion issues, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had previously advised the airport to reduce two aircraft movements per hour to enhance the reliability of flight operations.

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