The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has launched an investigation into an incident on Friday when two aeroplanes, one of Air India and the other of Nepal Airlines Corporation, came perilously close to colliding in mid-air, The Himalayan Times reported.
As per the statement provided by the Information Officer of CAAN, Gyanendra Bhul, an internal three-member committee has been formed to oversee the investigation.
The CAAN has also suspended two ATC officers who were in charge at the time of the incident.
In addition, the country manager of Air India has been instructed to ground the pilots involved in the incident until the final report of the investigation is released, The Himalayan Times reported.
"Our preliminary findings suggest that the Air India aircraft flying to Kathmandu from Delhi was in a holding pattern in the airspace of Simara at an altitude of roughly 19,000 feet. Without prior communication with the ATC, the aircraft abruptly descended towards the NAC aircraft that was flying in from Kuala Lumpur and was at an altitude of 15,000 feet. The two aircraft came dangerously close to colliding, but the traffic collision avoidance system installed in the cockpit of the flight RA- NAC was activated, which helped prevent the mid-air collision," Bhul said.
"It is worth noting that the vertical separation between two aircraft should ideally be 1,000 feet, except in emergency situations. However, the separation between the two aircraft, in this case, was approximately only 300 feet, which prompted the ATC to intervene," he added, The Himalayan Times reported.
He further informed that the ATC specialist instructed the pilot of the NAC aircraft to descend to an altitude of 13,500 feet, while the pilot of the Air India aircraft was directed to ascend to an altitude of 16,000 feet, ensuring a safe distance between the two aircraft, The Himalayan Times reported.
The Air India aircraft on Friday had descended to 3700 feet from 19,000 feet while it was being held up over the sky of Simara in Nepal.
"Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) of Tribhuvan International Airport involved in a traffic conflict incident (between Air India and Nepal Airlines on 24th March 2023) have been removed from active control position until further notice," the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal tweeted.
The CAAN has decided to ban the Air India pilots in the incidents and has written to DGCA-India, the CAAN announced.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) had also written to the Indian Commission in this regard about the decision.
The CAAN also questioned the crew over the incident on the same day 23 March after landing at Kathmandu. The pilot-in-command also accepted their mistake and apologized for it.
The aircraft of Air India had descended to 15 thousand 3 hundred feet from 19 thousand feet while it was being holed up at Simara of Nepal. At the time the Nepal Airlines aircraft was flying low and had to retract its height after the Indian Airlines descended. (ANI)