Chennai: A senior airport official and a helpful fireman at the Tirupati airport guided a Jet Airways flight carrying around 60 passengers to land on the morning of January 9 as the two air traffic controllers were not available at the time.
It might sound straight from a Hollywood movie, but the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is not amused and is mulling disciplinary action against officials for the major lapse.
On January 9, a Jet Airways flight from Hyderabad was readying to land in Tirupati airport in Renuguntta. However, the two (Air Traffic Control) ATC officials were not present at that point of time.
According to officials, V Janarthanan, deputy general manager at the airport panicked, and asked a fireman at the airport to relay to the pilot what he would tell him on the phone.
The Jet Airways plane made a smooth landing with the passengers unaware that a fireman had helped the pilot to land.
When asked about the incident D Devaraj, regional executive director at AAI told IANS: "We are taking action against the concerned officials."
An AAI team conducted an enquiry into the episode and has submitted its report.
As to the reason for the absence of two ATCs - "What will you do when you fall sick and not able to go to office? You will inform office that you won't be coming in. That is what happened at Tirupati," said Mr Devaraj.
He said the fireman happened to be at the ATC tower at that point of time and was not deputed to guide the incoming flight.
A Tirupati airport official told IANS that there are set procedures to be followed during such times.
"The landing of the aircraft could have been delayed. Planes normally have sufficient fuel to circle (the airport) till the clearance for landing is given," he said.
The plane could have also been redirected to Chennai which is just 15 minutes away.
Despite several attempts V Janarthanan was not available for comments or clarification.