CHENNAI: The passengers on board a Jet Airways flight on Wednesday had a hair-raising experience moments before they were to land at the Chennai Airport.
According to a passenger, who flew on Jet Airways flight 9W 2457 from Kochi, the pilot had announced that they were landing and had started the descent, when he suddenly pulled back and did a fly-around instead. Though the plane was not quite “that close to the ground as passengers imagine”, as a pilot put it, the reason for the fly-around was alarming just the same — another aircraft that was on the taxiway, waiting to take off, entered the runway — clear and present danger for the incoming aircraft.
Giving a miss to what could have been one of the biggest disasters and after an extended time in the sky, the plane was given the all-clear about 12 minutes later and managed to make a textbook landing. At the moment, no inquiry has been launched into the incident. Jet Airways declined to comment on the incident, though its pilot ought to be commended for pulling back as soon as the incursion was communicated to them by the Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs).
The Boeing 737-800 that has a capacity of over 180 passengers was on schedule and had entered Chennai airspace well before the scheduled arrival time of 6.50 pm. However, with the flyaround, passengers had to wait a little longer as ATCs sorted the issue out, though the consensus amongst the passengers was that it was a mistake made by the ATC tower.
When Express contacted Air Traffic Control, they explained that what happened was a “slight runway incursion”, and the incoming flight was asked to do a flyaround purely to be on the safe side.
“Planes on the cusp of the runway cannot be towed back. This happens sometimes when pilots are testing some engineering controls so we cannot blame them entirely. There are so many tracks on which planes wait in line for take-off after dark that sometimes they overshoot their holding spot,” said an official.