A pilot travelling on a Pune-Delhi flIght as a passenger had to step in and operate an IndiGo flight after the airline received a message that only CAT IIIB-qualified pilots would be allowed to land the aircraft at Delhi due to dense fog.
The flight departed for Delhi with the replaced pilot at 9.10 am Saturday after a delay of about 100 minutes and landed safely at the Delhi’s IGI Airport.
“On Saturday morning, Delhi Airport had implemented low visibility procedure. All incoming aircraft were expected to have CAT IIIB crew. On flight 6E- 6571, the assigned captain was not CAT IIIB cleared. Rather than delaying the flight, another IndiGo captain who had Cat IIIB clearance was requested to operate the flight to avoid delay and inconvenience to passengers. All necessary approvals were taken before changing the crew,” said IndiGo in a press statement released late night on Saturday.
After receiving the direction from Delhi and realising that the scheduled pilot didn’t have the requisite CAT IIIB , the airline approached the captain who was returning to Delhi after flying a flight to Pune.
The captain later had to go through all the mandatory examinations like breath analyser test and was bound to follow set procedures laid out by the airlines. Notably, he flew the aircraft without the uniform, sources at Pune Airport said.
According to ANI, India’s aviation watchdog Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is aware of the incident and has also issued a statement, saying it would look into the matter and act as per regulations.
As per sources at Pune Airport, the airline took the step to avoid delay in departure of the flight and possible cancellations. Importantly, the fully trained captain on board provided an option to waiting for one or two hours to summon another qualified pilot.
Usually airports located in the northern part of the country suffer from low visibility during the winter season every year and airlines deploy CAT-IIIB compliance /trained pilots for the operation. CAT-IIIB is Category III B approach and landing with no decision height lower than 50 feet (15metre) and a runway visual range (RVR) less than 700 ft (200 metre) but not less than 150 ft (50m).