IndiGo flight takes off without clearance, pilots grounded

India's aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), is investigating an incident involving an IndiGo flight that took off without air traffic control clearance on Monday, January 29, 2024.

An IndiGo Airbus A320neo, with registry VT-IJD
An IndiGo Airbus A320neo, with registry VT-IJD. Photo by Md Shaifuzzaman Ayon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons 

Flight 6E-1803, operated by an Airbus A320-271N (registered VT-IZN), departed Delhi, India, for Baku, Azerbaijan, at 7:38 PM local time without obtaining the mandatory departure clearance.

Commenting on the incident, low-cost carrier IndiGo said in a statement:

With reference to reports around IndiGo flight 6E 1803 operating between Delhi and Baku on Jan 28, 2024, the incident is currently under investigation and, appropriate action will be taken as necessary.

The DGCA said that both pilots of the international flight have been temporarily removed from flying status pending investigation of the incident.

A DGCA official said:

The matter is under investigation. The two pilots have been de-rostered from duties pending investigation. 

Both international and national aviation regulations, including the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, mandate obtaining clearances before takeoff in controlled airspace.

These clearances are crucial for ensuring proper separation between aircraft, preventing potential collisions on the ground and in the air. Air traffic controllers continuously track and manage aircraft movements, and clearances guarantee that takeoff is authorized only when it is safe to do so.