“We have got multiple instrument failures… we are low on fuel”, one of the pilots of an Air India flight carrying 370 people told an air traffic controller minutes before the aircraft managed to land safely at New Jersey on September 11. As the pilots of Boeing 777-300 aircraft grappled with technical issues and was seeking a place for landing, one of the messages from the air traffic controller said, “I am gonna do some research and get back to you in a second”.
The incident happened with AI-101 flight from Delhi to New York, forcing the aircraft to make an unscheduled landing at New Jersey airport on September 11. According to an audio clipping of the conversation between the pilots and an air traffic controller in the US, various options were looked at before the plane made the landing at New Jersey airport.
“Basically… we have got a single cross radio altimeter, we have got TCAS failure, no auto-land, windshear systems, auto-speed brake and the APU (Auxillary Power Unit) is unserviceable as well,” one of the pilots said during the conversation. They were also heard saying that the plane was low on fuel even though Air India claimed that the aircraft had more than “adequate fuel reserves”.
“Gotcha… okay I am gonna do some research I will get back to you in a second just a…. just hang on a second,” the air traffic controller is heard telling the pilots during the conversation. A link of the audio clipping was shared by an Air India pilot with PTI. In a statement, Air India said the plane’s radio altimeters failed which in turn rendered TCAS and ILS non-functional. TCAS and ILS refers to Traffic Collision Avoidance System and Instrument Landing System, respectively.
“The crew carefully weighed all options limited by terminal failure and adverse weather and diverted towards Newark,” it said,
The airline noted that the cockpit crew landed the plane successfully “braving adverse weather conditions and unexpected technical issues”. “The cockpit crew comprising commanders Captain Rustom Palia and Captain Sushant Singh and co-pilots Captain R S Bhatti and Captain R S Vikas decided to initiate a Go-Around reporting an unstable approach. “The decision to Go-Around and divert was commendable and done in the interest of flight safety,” it said.