For those of you who remember, about a fortnight ago, Mumbai had a runway closure on the night of September 19 when SpiceJet had a plane incursion on the primary runway of the airport, and due to the heavy rains, the secondary runway could not be made operational. As a consequence, for a few hours right after the incident, no planes were able to land at Mumbai and everyone had to be sent to other airports (diversions).
What became representative of the incident was this flight between Toronto and Mumbai, Air Canada’s AC46 which was supposed to land at Mumbai after usually 14.5 hours of flying but had to eventually head to Hyderabad for a diversion.
However, right after they started to approach Runway 14/32 their permission was cancelled owing to the aircraft stuck on the runway, in which case the AC aircraft initiated a Missed Approach and went into a holding pattern. After 1 hour of hold over Mumbai, like you can see in the flight above, they figured they did not have more patience (perhaps in terms of fuel) for this, so they set about for their planned alternative airport. Given that was full (perhaps Ahmedabad, but not stated in the reports), they decided to go to Hyderabad.
En route to Hyderabad, the ATC informed the plane that there was no space in Hyderabad as well to accommodate them. Only now there were more than 16 hours of flying and the only thing on a pilot’s mind was going to be a safe landing. So, the pilots declared Mayday given their low fuel state and after 4 Mayday calls was allowed to land in Hyderabad. As per AVherald,
The flight crew declared Mayday due to being low on fuel, however, ATC instructed them to enter a hold and tried to divert them several times before giving them a direct route to Hyderabad following the fourth (!) Mayday declaration. The aircraft landed on Hyderabad’s runway 09L 118 minutes after aborting the approach to Mumbai.
The comments in the Avherald report have a nice insight from people in the air that night about how did the entire situation work out.
I’m only too happy that the pilot stuck to his guns and managed to land that plane. I’m sure Mumbai ATC was working beyond capacity to make sure no more incidents happened but on the other hand, I’d have expected other ATCs to perhaps have a more hands-on approach trying to accommodate rather than shuttle planes around. Planes eventually got diverted all over the place to Delhi, Muscat and where else, but the situation I’m sure, in hindsight, could have been managed much better and the SOPs could be reworked for accommodating such situations.