Aviation safety

Near miss for 251 people as Air India aircraft avoids collision with Vistara flight over Mumbai

The air traffic controllers handling the two planes have been suspended and the Vistara pilots have been taken off duty.

An Air India aircraft narrowly avoided colliding with a Vistara plane over Mumbai on Wednesday, PTI reported on Monday. Vistara’s UK 997 flight from Delhi to Pune, with 152 passengers on board, was just 100 ft from Air India’s Bengaluru-bound AI 631 flight with 109 on board when the pilot steered it away.

The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau has ordered an inquiry into the incident. The air traffic controllers who handled the two flights have been suspended, according to The Times of India. Vistara has also taken the two pilots operating the aircraft off duty.

An unidentified official told the daily that the Vistara aircraft had descended from 29,000 ft to 27,100 ft as the Air India flight approached it from the opposite direction. “[Air India Captain Anupama Kohli] could see the Vistara flight approaching and hear the air traffic controllers asking UK 997 why it was on this level,” the official said. The Vistara pilot told the controllers that it had asked the flight to descend to that level.

“[Captain Kohli] saw the Vistara plane closing in from her left side towards her,” the official added. “Then, as per a Resolution Advisory in the cockpit, Kohli immediately climbed and turned right to steer clear from the Vistara plane.”

The two flights ended up 600 ft clear of each other, thus averting a disaster, The Times of India reported.

Vistara officials told PTI that their pilots had followed the standard operating procedure during the crisis and had carried out an “uneventful landing”. However, Air India officials said the near-collision was the result of an argument between the Vistara pilots and the air traffic controller. They praised Captain Kohli’s “timely action” and said the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau had cleared her for flying.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Decoding the symbolic threads and badges of one of India’s oldest cavalry units

The untold story of The President’s Bodyguard.

The national emblem of India; an open parachute and crossed lances – this triad of symbols representing the nation, excellence in training and valor respectively are held together by an elite title in the Indian army – The President’s Bodyguard (PBG).

The PBG badge is worn by one of the oldest cavalry units in the India army. In 1773, Governor Warren Hastings, former Governor General of India, handpicked 50 troopers. Before independence, this unit was referred to by many titles including Troops of Horse Guards and Governor General’s Body Guards (GGBG). In 1950, the unit was named The President’s Bodyguard and can be seen embroidered in the curved maroon shoulder titles on their current uniforms.

The President’s Bodyguard’s uniform adorns itself with proud colours and symbols of its 245 year-old-legacy. Dating back to 1980, the ceremonial uniform consists of a bright red long coat with gold girdles and white breeches, a blue and gold ceremonial turban with a distinctive fan and Napoleon Boots with spurs. Each member of the mounted unit carries a special 3-meter-long bamboo cavalry lance, decorated by a red and white pennant. A sheathed cavalry sabre is carried in in the side of the saddle of each trooper.

While common perception is that the PBG mainly have ceremonial duties such as that of being the President’s escort during Republic Day parade, the fact is that the members of the PBG are highly trained. Handpicked by the President’s Secretariat from mainstream armored regiments, the unit assigns a task force regularly for Siachen and UN peace keeping operations. Moreover, the cavalry members are trained combat parachutists – thus decorating the PBG uniform with a scarlet Para Wings badge that signifies that these troopers are a part of the airborne battalion of the India Army.

Since their foundation, the President’s Guard has won many battle honors. In 1811, they won their first battle honor ‘Java’. In 1824, they sailed over Kalla Pani for the first Burmese War and earned the second battle honour ‘Ava’. The battle of Maharajapore in 1843 won them their third battle honor. Consequently, the PBG fought in the main battles of the First Sikh War and earned four battle honours. Post-independence, the PBG served the country in the 1962 Indo-China war and the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

The PBG, one of the senior most regiments of the Indian Army, is a unique unit. While the uniform is befitting of its traditional and ceremonial role, the badges that augment those threads, tell the story of its impressive history and victories.

How have they managed to maintain their customs for more than 2 centuries? A National Geographic exclusive captures the PBG’s untold story. The documentary series showcases the discipline that goes into making the ceremonial protectors of the supreme commander of the Indian Armed Forces.


The National Geographic exclusive is a landmark in television and is being celebrated by the #untoldstory contest. The contest will give 5 lucky winners an exclusive pass to the pre-screening of the documentary with the Hon’ble President of India at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. You can also nominate someone you think deserves to be a part of the screening. Follow #UntoldStory on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to participate.

This article was produced by Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic and not by the Scroll editorial team.