A United Airways flight narrowly averted a mid-air collision with another airplane in Kolkata airspace while heading to Dhaka from Muscat yesterday with 148 passengers on board.
Captain of the United flight MD83, Ariful Islam, said his plane almost came within "visual distance" of the aircraft flying towards him.
The approaching plane, possibly of Saudi Airlines, was just 35 seconds away, Md Kamrul Islam, assistant general manager (marketing support and public relations) of United Airways told The Daily Star.
The incident took place around 8:30am yesterday while MD83 was flying through Kolkata air.
#BreakingNews | Mid-air collision averted between United Airways enroute Dhaka and Saudi Arabian Airlines aircrafts in Kolkata air space
— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) August 11, 2014
When the plane was about 270 miles from Dhaka and flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet, the Kolkata Air Traffic Control told Islam to descend to 29,000 feet, Islam said in his report filed with his airlines after landing in Dhaka.
As he started complying, the flight warning system TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) alerted him about a flight approaching him at 32,000 feet.
In the clear sky, he could see a plane of Saudi Airlines plane approaching his flight,
There was another airplane of Emirates which was flying at the height of 29,000 feet, according to Islam.
He immediately alerted the Kolkata Air Traffic Control and ascended to 33,000 feet again.
"The minimum vertical distance between two aircraft should be 1,000 feet whereas the United Airways flight had come as close as 700 feet to the Saudi Airlines aircraft. But for the TCAS, the consequence would have been disastrous," an official at Kolkata ATC told Kolkata newspaper The Statesman.
The eastern regional executive director of Airports Authority of India, S Bhaduri, said that a probe had been ordered into the incident to find out whether it was the mistake of Kolkata ATC or the United Airways pilot, the Statesman report added.