Air India Pilot Nails Safe Landing Despite Major System Shutdown

On 11 September, an Air India pilot experienced a pilot’s worst fear – a massive system failure while landing.

2 min read
An Air India aircraft that failed to land at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport. Image used for representational purposes. 

On 11 September, an Air India pilot managed to avert a tragedy after his plane experienced a massive system failure while landing, NDTV reported.

Air India Boeing 777-330, carrying 370 passengers, was plying between New Delhi and New York when the system required for landing either failed or malfunctioned. Add to this a depleting fuel tank, and Captain Rustom Palia was caught in a pilot’s worst fear.

Flying for 13 hours, the AI-101, an Air India flagship flight, also faced turbulent weather conditions near New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport when trying to land.

According to NDTV, the Commander of the flight radioed Air Traffic Control in New York to say the flight had “no Auto-Land, no windshear systems, no Auto Speed Brake and the Auxiliary Power Unit is unserviceable as well.”

Palia’s troubles did not end there. NDTV reported that the flight’s Instrument Landing System – which helps the pilot assess weather conditions for take-offs and landings – was unpredictable.

Judging that landing at JFK would be impossible given the system failures, Palia decided he would instead land in the designated alternate airport – in Newark.

With the help of a few “navigation aids” on board, the crew attempted a “non-precision” landing in Newark, a whole 38 minutes after the first failure hit the systems, reported NDTV. Around 90 seconds before the flight landed, the Newark control room reportedly sent out an alert that the flight was “dangerously low” in its approach.

What’s important is that Air India pilots are not imparted any training to face a non-precision landing situation, reported NDTV.

While NDTV reported that Air India had refused to comment on the issue, spokesperson Praveen Bhatnagar confirmed the incident to ANI, saying the Flight Safety department was investigating the matter.

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