Akshay Mantri, Aeronautics Online writer
Earlier this month on December 4th, 2017 a Singapore Airlines flight SQ422 from Singapore Changi Airport to Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport had a close call when the A350-900XWB (9V-SMH) mistakenly approached a different runway (RWY08) which belonged to a small airport named Juhu Airport (normally used by general aviation and for training purpose) rather than its normal approach for Mumbai CSIA’s runway (RWY09). “The A359, with 259 passengers and crew members aborted the landing at about 1,000 feet due to poor visibility” quoted SIA. A team of Mumbai Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) conducted preliminary investigation and called it a serious incident. Had the A359 landed on the wrong RWY, would have been a tragic incident as it would have overrun the extremely short runway. The flight landed safely after issuing a missed approach.
However, SQ denied that the crew of SQ 422 had mistaken Juhu for CSIA. “Singapore Airlines SQ422, an A350, operating from Singapore to Mumbai on December 4, 2017, was scheduled to land on Runway 09 at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at 10.35 am (local time). Due to poor visibility conditions, the crew discontinued the approach to Runway 09 at approximately 1000 feet, in accordance with standard operating procedures. Air Traffic Control Mumbai then vectored the flight for a subsequent approach onto Runway 09 and the flight landed uneventfully at 10.48 am (local time). At no time did the pilots of SQ 422 mistake Juhu airport as Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport,” said a SQ Spokesperson.
A DGCA official said in a report, “SIA plane had slightly ‘drifted’ from its assigned path. “Whenever we get reports on crew errors on Indian aircraft from our international counterparts, we ground them to give corrective training. For example, in the last one year European countries have twice scrambled jets for two Indian airliners as they did not respond the ATC, we are reporting to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore(CAAS) this occurrence in which the SIA plane drifted from its assigned flight path. While not too much, there was some deviation which will be reported to Singapore authorities. The aircraft was making a visual approach to CSIA as instrument landing was not available at that time.”
About 50 years ago, 3 incidents were reported were pilots have landed planes on the shorter runway of Juhu, mistaking it for Mumbai’s RWY09. On December 14, 1972 an Interflug Ilyushin-18, bound for Bombay, India (BOM) mistakenly landed at Juhu Aerodrome. It was involved in an overrun. Similarly, on September 24, 1972 a Japan Airlines DC-8, bound for Bombay, India (BOM) mistakenly landed at Juhu Aerodrome, overshooting the runway. Also, on July 15, 1953 a BOAC Comet, bound for Santa Cruz Airport in Bombay, India (BOM), mistakenly landed at Juhu Aerodrome. These incidents have proved to be very tragic, the A350 could have been involved in a similar case.