Why an Air India flight made unscheduled landing at New Jersey

Lloyd Doyle
September 20, 2018

What made the situation worse was that after a 15-hour non-stop flight from Delhi, fuel was low, and the weather was bad.

It was September 11, when Air India's AI-101 was flying from Delhi to NY.

The commander in charge of the 15-hour flight could be heard fretting approximately 38 minutes prior to landing, as he called Air Traffic Control in NY to say: "We're really, you know, stuck, and there's no fuel".

However, before the landing, the aircraft's "radio altimeters" failed which in turn rendered TCAS (Collision Avoidance System) and ILS (Instrument Landing System) non-functional.

Prospects became even bleaker when the pilots discovered they couldn't even rely on the automatic landing system, namely the Instrument Landing System (ILS) receivers.

"The cockpit crew of the Air India Boeing 777-300 aircraft operating flight AI-101 of September 11, 2018, from Delhi (India) to NY successfully made a non-scheduled landing at New Jersey Airport braving adverse weather conditions and unexpected technical issues, and proving once again the class, expertise and experience of Air India's pilots to face any such eventuality and come out in flying colours.

We have multiple instrument failure", one of the pilots on Flight AI-101 is heard telling air traffic controllers (ATC) at JFK airport.

This meant that the pilots of the aircraft, which was a nine-year-old Boeing 777-300, had to manually land it.


"Your Instrument Landing System is out of service on both sides of the aircraft, right?"

"Yea, that's correct", the pilot responded.

ATC: "And you said your radio altimeters are out on both sides of the airplane?"

In order to land the plane, the pilots would've to fly extremely low and keep descending in the approximate direction of the runway without knowing its exact location.

With dangerously low fuel on board and extremely cloudy conditions over large parts of the NY state area, they would need to keep descending in the approximate direction of the runway without knowing its precise location.

"Okay, Air India, just when you get the chance, give me the people on board and the fuel on board please", the ATC said. "The Air India pilots have successfully handled the situation", airline spokesperson Praveen Bhatnagar said.

The crew managed to land the plane using navigation aids and their own wits - being met by emergency services at Newark. The flight, which was to land at the John F Kennedy airport in NY, managed to land at an alternate designated airport in Newark. This meant using an out-of-box approach that they were never taught and is neither mentioned in the operational guidelines of the Boeing. 90 seconds later, the big jet was on the ground, approximately 38 minutes after the in-cockpit crisis first occurred.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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