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Pilots tried to land plane on road

An airliner of India's IndiGo carrier flies over the setting sun in New Delhi on February 10, 2016. Picture: AFP/ Prakash Singh

An airliner of India's IndiGo carrier flies over the setting sun in New Delhi on February 10, 2016. Picture: AFP/ Prakash Singh

Published May 23, 2016


New Delhi - An Indian airline has grounded two pilots for attempting to land their plane on a road which they mistook for a runway, the airline and reports said on Monday.

The IndiGo flight from Ahmedabad in Gujarat state to Jaipur in Rajasthan was close to touching down until the pilots were alerted by a “too low terrain” warning in the cockpit, IndiGo said in a statement.

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“The captain in command immediately took a precautionary measure and carried a go-around. The aircraft landed safely on subsequent approach,” added the statement.

The incident, the latest to highlight safety concerns in India's rapidly expanding aviation sector, happened on February 27 but has only just come to light in Indian media.

The Hindustan Times quoted an aviation official as saying the plane was at an altitude of around 900 feet and 90 seconds away from landing on a road running parallel to the runway.

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IndiGo said the pilots were made aware of their mistake by an enhanced ground proximity warning system, which alerts the cockpit if the plane is in danger of flying into the ground or hitting something.

“At no time was safety compromised. Both pilots have been taken off flight duty with immediate effect, pending investigation,” said the statement.

“The matter was duly reported to the (aviation regulator) Directorate General of Civil Aviation by IndiGo flight safety department,” IndiGo added.

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IndiGo, famed for its no-frills approach and fixation with punctuality, commands almost 40 percent of its home market, the biggest share of any airline. It is the country's only consistently profitable airline.

The government wants to make air travel affordable for millions of its citizens but a number of safety incidents have led to concerns over the speed of growth.

Earlier this year an Air India plane with 160 passengers was forced to return to New Delhi almost 30 minutes into a Milan-bound flight after smoke was detected in the cabin.

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In December a London-bound Air India flight with over 200 passengers returned to Mumbai after three hours in the air over a suspected rat sighting in the cabin.

That same month a technician working for Air India died after being sucked into a jet engine as the plane pushed back for take-off at Mumbai airport.


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