Right Runway, Wrong Direction: SpiceJet De-Rosters 2 Pilots After Q400 Incident

Two SpiceJet pilots have been pulled off the roster after a safety incident involving a DHC Q400. The pilots landed on the wrong end of the runway at Belgaum Airport and failed to report the incident until flying the return service to Hyderabad. The failure to report resulted in the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) being overridden and creates issues for the investigation. Let’s find out more.

SpiceJet Q400
The Q400 landed at the wrong end of the runway, having been approved for Runway 26 instead of Runway 08. Photo: Getty Images

Wrong end

Belgaum Airport features a single runway with a central taxiway for arriving aircraft. On Sunday, SpiceJet flight SG3733 came in for approach from Hyderabad and was assigned Runway 26 for its landing. However, the pilots opted to land at Runway 08 instead, which is the other end of the same runway, without ATC clearance for a change.

According to AvHerald, the issues did not stop there. Instead of reporting the incident to the airline and following the procedure, the pilots opted to continue their return flight to Hyderabad. While this may have been allowed in exceptional cases, it resulted in serious issues subsequently.

SpiceJet Q400
Belgaum is a regional airport in the neighboring state of Karnataka. Photo: Getty Images

Due to the pilots flying the return leg before reporting the issue, data from the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) was overridden. This is since the CVR only stores data from the last two hours, and the issue was only reported four hours after the original landing. The incident took place on a DHC Q400, registered VT-SQC, according to RadarBox.com.

A word from DGCA

This procedural breach led to SpiceJet de-rostering both pilots promptly pending a full investigation by the Aircraft Accident Investigations Bureau (AAIB). According to The Hindu, a spokesperson for the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) said,

“The air traffic control officers had asked the pilots to land on runway 26, but the flight landed on runway 08, which means the other end of the same runway. This created problems for the passengers, and confused the airport staff…The ATC tower staff in Belagavi [Belgaum] may also be called. The investigation will find out what went wrong, who was responsible and how such events can be prevented in future.”

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Technical error

It’s important to note that the DGCA has classified the incident as a technical error and not an accident. This is since there was no risk of coming into contact with other aircraft but a communication issue instead. However, the failure of the pilots and ATC to report an incident such as this has caused the probe. Considering how crucial airfield safety is, the DGCA does not want to see such incidents occur again.

Spicejet Q400
SpiceJet uses its Q400s on regional routes across the country under the UDAN scheme, which provides subsidies. Photo: Premnath Kudva via Wikimedia Commons

Now, the two SpiceJet pilots have been de-rostered by the airport and asked to come before a hearing to explain why they did request clearance to switch to Runway 08 and did not report the breach subsequently. This could mean both pilots will be on the ground for months as a full investigation takes place.

What do you think about the runway incident? Let us know in the comments.