New Delhi: In March, two aircraft operated by Emirates and Etihad Airways had a ‘near miss’ over Mumbai, as they were less than 1,000 feet apart and flying head on. Flying that close is considered dangerous and triggers a collision warning alarm in the cockpit. A Directorate General of Civil Aviation inquiry into the incident has yet to come up with its findings. Aviation experts meanwhile point out India’s depleted pool of air traffic controllers—that means extra work pressure on those who are on duty— as a possible cause.
There had been several instances of near miss in Indian airspace in recent times, with Mumbai and Delhi accounting for the most.
To take the current work load, the Airports Authority of India (AAI), which provides ATC services in the country, needs to add at least 1,500 more ATC officers to the current roster of 2,600, say ATC sources.
An official at AAI’s human resources department acknowledged the shortage and said a process to fill the vacancies was ongoing.
A senior ATC official said the AAI had to hire 2,500 over a five-year period starting 2012 but nothing had happened so far. “Even the latest recruitment drive is likely to get cancelled due to the delay in finalising candidates and setting interviews of AAI human resources directorate,” said another official.
The HR official countered this view, saying that the authority was in the process of hiring about 700 ATC officers. “We are likely to complete hiring of 450 ATC officers soon and other 200 are in process,” he said.
04/08/15 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times