Aside from stalled systems, the pilots were also running low on fuel and dealt a serving of bad weather. Conversations between an Air India pilot and air traffic controllers (ATC) were obtained by LiveATC.net, a website that archives ATC radio transmissions.
In the recordings, the pilots discuss the weather over New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, where they initially intended to land, and inform air traffic controllers that several landing systems are not functioning and that they are trying to find another option to help them land the Boeing 777- 300 plane.
"Basically we've got a single cross radio altimeter, we've got [traffic collision avoidance system] failure, no autoland windshear systems, [no] autospeed brake, and the [auxiliary power unit] is unserviceable as well," the lead pilot of the Air India flight tells air traffic controllers in New York.
The listed malfunctions were in addition to both instrument landing system (ILS) receivers — the system that offers pilots both vertical and horizontal guidance during landing — not working properly.
"You know, this ILS is unpredictable, because everytime we turn towards the localizer, it's just gone," the pilot stresses, before noting that he'll be using a "non-precision approach."
Officials considered landing at alternate airports in Albany and Boston, both which were booted from the list after the pilots cited their depleting fuel tanks. They eventually decided to take their chances and head over to Newark International Airport in New Jersey after weather there improved somewhat.
The approach the pilots took ultimately left them flying blind, with traffic controllers offering some guidance as they approached the runway along with a few of the landing aids that were still in place. According to NDTV, the "out of the box" approach isn't taught by Air India.
At one point in the recordings, officials are heard telling the pilots that they're flying too low. However, more than 30 minutes after the crisis broke out, the plane managed to safely land. Pilots and air traffic controllers exchange thank-yous before the recording drops out.
Despite the setbacks, flight AIC101 and its pilots did eventually return to India. An official with India's Director General of Civil Aviation told the Hindustan Times in an article published Tuesday that an investigation was underway. "The pilot did a good job by diverting the flight and landing safely," the unnamed official said. "Our probe will revolve on technical glitches."
The flight to New York was carrying a total of 370 passengers.