Nagpur: Flight No. 6 E 403 of Indigo Airlines coming from Mumbai to Nagpur had taken off right on dot at 3.55 p.m. from Chatrapati Shivaji international airport and it had been smooth sailing for most of the one hour and 30+ minutes that is the normal duration of the journey. The plane was full to capacity, as usual.
The pilot had made the customary announcement that the plane was ready to land at Nagpur. He also gave the weather conditions at Nagpur, which is also the norm. Passengers heard the sound of wheels coming down for landing and the runway approaching fast.
Many must have relaxed then, thinking ‘ we are home!’
And then moments before it was to land, the jet took off instead of landing and ‘took to the air’ again! (That is a new take on take flight with fright…)
There was panic among all passengers and many began crying and shouting. Babies and children added to the chaos by also beginning to cry. Many passengers got sick. People just didn’t understand what was happening!
And then the pilot announced something to the effect that ‘overview for landing had not been ideal due to some wind or weather issues. He could one of the 2 following things:
Fly around and come down again for landing at Nagpur. But he did not have sufficient fuel to divert anywhere else if second attempt was also unsuccessful.
Second option was abort attempt to land at Ambedkar and fly to Hyderabad instead which is the designated alternate airport to Nagpur. There was enough fuel to do that at this stage.
That is the decision he took, naturally we assume after confirming with ATC Hyderabad. The plane was put on Emergency and priority basis shortening flying time from the normal 50 minutes ( Nagpur to Hyderabad) to 30 minutes. NT learnt from Airport authorities that short cuts were taken to make this possible!! (Wow…even planes can take ‘short cuts?’)
Once it had landed in Hyderabad, it was immediately taken up for refueling and it was announced that it was ready to take off for Nagpur again. The Hyderabad halt was of approximately 30 minutes.
At this stage there was again panic and uncertainty among the passengers.
What had been the problem? Was it with the plane or Nagpur airport? What did the pilot see/ experience when he decided not to land and go to Hyderabad instead?
Even passengers who are frequent flyers were perturbed.
Someone called NT at this stage and asked us to check at Nagpur airport.
After being told by some that ‘media cannot be entertained with such queries’ we were directed to Airport Director’s number.
The person manning that phone explained that ‘unsafe tail winds’ had caused pilot to take that decision and since condition were improved and better now it could land safely, there were no issues.
What is tail wind and when does it become unsafe?
Our search threw up the following explaination : ( we got this from an international aviation site)
Why is tailwind during final approach and landing so dangerous?
Please understand, said one ex pilot, that tailwind is typically a good thing during your flight as it increases your ground speed and gets you to your destination faster. Despite that I get a feeling that pilots typically get very uncomfortable when there is a significant tailwind present during landing. Sadly, recent proof of this danger was in Aspen, Colorado accident.
Another reply said ” it’s not so much a matter of pilots getting uncomfortable as pilots recognizing that it is inherently ‘less safe’ situation and all careful pilots will avoid such a situation.
Well, better safe than sorry or some hours late!!
Full marks to Indigo pilot for putting passenger safety first…
(This feedback was given to the traveler by this writer which set his mind at peace about continuing with the flight… feels good when being an online 24*7 news portal is also used by our readers to get advise even on such life and death matters!!)
Indigo flight No. 6 E 403 just landed in Nagpur 5 minutes ago from Hyderabad!!!!