Thursday, August 21, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Pilot presses hijack button by mistake
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 20
The memories of the Kathmandu-bound IC 814 Indian Airlines flight, which was hijacked by terrorists, were revived this morning when a Srinagar-bound airbus sent out a distress message of a hijack creating panic among 53 passengers, including Union Ministers Chaman Lal Gupta and Ashok Pradhan and also sending the security forces into a high-alert mode at the Indira Gandhi International airport here.

Although initial reports said that the pilot of the Indian Airlines flight to Srinagar, which itself is considered among the sensitive areas of operation, had apparently pressed the wrong button which led to the commotion, Minister of Civil Aviation Rajiv Pratap Rudy later told reporters that the hijack signal went off due to a malfunction in the ‘remote transponder’ which was installed in the aircraft today. The government ordered an inquiry into the incident which would be conducted by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to find out how the hijack alarm went off. The inquiry committee would go into the circumstances leading to the triggering of the alarm.

The Civil Aviation Minister said the alarm had emanated from the cockpit of the plane activating the precautionary emergency system. “ But now everything has been set right”, he said later. However, the minister maintained that the incident had demonstrated that all “systems” at the airport were working efficiently.

Giving the details of the incident the minister said that the incident occurred as the IC-825 A320 aircraft was taking off at around 11 am. He said that the ‘remote transponder’, which had been inducted into the aircraft only today, malfunctioned leading to the signals being emitted from the plane.

He said that the plane, which is on lease from Ireland, gave out intermittent code signals, denoting a hijack, which were picked up by the Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar leading to an emergency being declared.

The plane was being commandeered by Capt Rajiv Nanda with Capt Avantika being the co-pilot. The minister said that although the ATC did speak to the commander and was satisfied that there was no hijack situation, the flight was stopped from taking off as a precautionary measure. The plane had completed a Delhi-Ahmedabad-Vadodara-Delhi flight in the morning and was on its second sector when the alarm from the remote transponder went off.

The CISF personnel, responsible for security of the airport, also rushed to the tarmac along with fire tenders and ambulances when the emergency signals were detected. They surrounded the aircraft after taking it to an isolated spot, airport sources said. The Quick Reaction Teams of the force comprising 38 men surrounded the plane within four minutes of the alarm going off. 

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
123 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |