Aviation Minister Jayant Singh on Thursday said that 3 planes including an IndiGo aircraft carrying West Bengal; on Wednesday evening were reported to be low on fuel. He said that a probe had been ordered by the DGCA to find out as to how as many as 3 planes were running low on fuel. Earlier today, the parliament was again disrupted amidst uproar by MPs who questioned as to how the airline could compromise on the safety of the passengers including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. According to reports, Sinha said that the IndiGo 6E 342’s pilots had reported to the Kolkata ATC that they had only 8 minutes of petrol left. Two more aircraft, belonging to Spicejet and Air India had also reported being low on fuel. The Kolkata ATC had then given an immediate order to land these flights on priority.
However, IndiGO denied the allegations of its plane being low on fuel and said that the entire confusion was due to a misunderstanding by the Kolkata ATC. The IndiGo flight with Mamata Banerjee was reportedly carrying 173 other passengers landed 13 minutes after its pilots allegedly reported that there was a lack of fuel, Sinha said. When asked by TMC MPs about the emergency procedure taken by Kolkata airport, like the fire tenders and ambulances lined up on the runway awaiting the landing, Sinha added that they were taken as a matter of “abundant precaution”. Jayant Sinha further said that there was no risk to any passenger at any point in time. Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said that the DGCA had ordered enquiry to check as to how the three flights reported low fuel, and it is wrong to say that the IndiGo flight was made to hover for 30-40 minutes. None of the pilots asked for an emergency landing. Indigo should have carried extra fuel.
Meanwhile IndiGo released a statement saying that the flight 6E 342 from Patna to Kolkata had made a normal landing at the Kolkata Airport onWednesday. The report stated that the flight had been kept on hold before landing due to air congestion at Kolkata. The report further stated that the pilot who was in charge of the flight had advised the ATC that the 8 minutes of extra holding fuel over Kolkata. The information by the pilot was however misunderstood by the Air Traffic Controller. This misinterpretation of information by the ATC was what led to the stationing of the ambulances and fire engines at the Kolkata airport, the report suggested. IndiGO clarified that the flight captain had not declared an emergency and the plane had made a normal landing at the Kolkata Airport at 8:40 pm, which was a one but delayed time due to the air congestion.
The Trinamool Congress, though, had alleged a conspiracy in the delay by the Kolkata ATC in allowing the plane carrying Mamata Banerjee to land.