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DGCA Permits Vistara Pilots Who Issued 'Mayday Call' to Resume Flying Duties: Report

Vistara airlines. (Image: Reuters)

Vistara airlines. (Image: Reuters)

The pilots issued a 'Mayday' distress call due to low-fuel near Lucknow airport, indicating the seriousness of their situation to the Air Traffic Control.

New Delhi: The pilots of Vistara Airlines, who had earlier issued a “Mayday" call on a Mumbai-Delhi flight, have been permitted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to resume normal flying duties on Thursday. But the DGCA will take a final decision once the investigation report comes in, according to PTI.

The flight, with 153 passengers, had on Monday narrowly escaped an aerial mishap when it was diverted to Lucknow due to lack of visibility and almost ran out of fuel.

The pilots, who had been de-rostered as per DGCA's instructions, had issued a "Mayday" distress call due to low-fuel near Lucknow airport, indicating the seriousness of their situation to the Air Traffic Control.

"The flight could have managed only 10 more minutes in the air before exhausting the fuel. The aircraft had barely 300 kg of fuel left when it touched down at the Lucknow airport," the airlines had said.

Usually, an Airbus A-320 Neo flight covering the Mumbai-Delhi distance lands with enough fuel for approximately 60 extra minutes of flight. This extra fuel carried onboard is used if the aircraft has to divert to alternate airports for emergency cases. However, the aircraft was not carrying enough fuel to travel the extra distance due to the diversion.

According to the airline, "En route Prayagraj, the Lucknow ATC (air traffic controller) informed the crew that the weather in Lucknow had improved significantly following which the crew decided to return to Lucknow due to better passenger and aircraft support."

A senior Vistara official confirmed to PTI that the pilot had been "de-rostered" as per the instructions of the regulator. "The pilot who was operating UK944 flight and issued a 'Mayday' call on Monday has been suspended by the DGCA," another source said.

A Vistara spokesperson said, "Flight UK944 operating Mumbai-Delhi on July 15, 2019, initiated a diversion to Lucknow due to bad weather over Delhi. However, over Lucknow, the visibility suddenly dropped and a safe landing was not possible. The crew then considered alternative airfields, including Kanpur and Prayagraj to land in comparatively better weather condition".

He said the Lucknow Air Traffic Control then informed the crew that the weather in Lucknow had improved significantly following which the crew decided to return to the city due to better passenger and aircraft support there.

"The unexpected drop in visibility at the destination alternate was the main reason why the aircraft ended up in a low-fuel situation despite carrying excess fuel over and above the required Flight Plan Fuel as per regulations. Safety of passengers and crew was kept at the highest priority throughout the flight," the spokesperson added.


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