The rare incident that occurred on 09 January morning at the Air Traffic Control room chills ones spines to the core. Should we appreciate the timely action and presence of mind or denounce the action which would have claimed several lives if mishandled. This is the question that is quizzing me, ever since I came to know about this incident. As per sources on that morning the ATC guided a Hyderabad-Tirupati Jet Airways flight carrying around 60 passengers to land. The main reason of panic was that two ATC officials were on leave. The authorities seem to have done a temporary trouble shooting, by asking the fireman, who was at the ATC, for assisting the landing. Everything went well and none of the passengers ever knew that they were helped by a nontechnical source to land. This reality would have set butterflies in their stomach.
According to officials, V. Janarthanan, deputy general manager at the airport panicked, and asked a fireman at the airport to relay to the pilot what he would tell him on the phone. Fireman Basha called up Mr Janarthanan who instructed him to take control of the ATC. Taking directions from the AAI official over the phone, Basha entered the ATC tower and operated the radio. Speaking in broken English, he gave the pilot the information needed for a safe landing. The DGM was unavailable for comment. Whatever be the reason it was a sizeable risk, had the event occurred as narrated. An AAI team conducted an enquiry into the episode and has submitted its report.
An airport official is supposed to have said, to a media source, about the options available to the ATC, in such situations. `The landing of the aircraft could have been delayed. Planes normally have sufficient fuel to circle till the clearance for landing is given,’ he said. `The plane could have also gone to Chennai which is just 15 minutes away,’ he added.
(With inputs from internet: AarKay)