M A I N   N E W S

Mid-air Scare
IAF Dornier was blip on radar
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 23
The blip on the radar that caused a mid-air scare for the Prime Ministerís special plane over the Delhi airport last evening was caused by an Indian Air force Dornier-228 aircraft flying in the air space.

Sources in the South Block confirmed that it was an IAF aircraft but said it was not seen as a security breach. However, officially, the Defence Ministry is silent if the Dornier was on the path allocated by the air traffic controller (ATC) or it had strayed away from its allocated altitude.

Officials maintained that it was not a security breach as the distance of 20- nautical miles was maintained between the PMís aircraft and the Dornier. The directorate-general of civil aviation (DGCA), the Airport Authority of India and the Bureau of Civil Aviation and other intelligence agencies are carrying out further investigation into the incident, the sources said.

Since morning, the defence authorities first denied that it was their aircraft and when the enquiry zeroed in on further, the ďno commentsĒ line was dished out without denying anything.

The IAF meanwhile, has also contacted the pilot, who was flying the Dornier.

The preliminary findings of the enquiry of the DGCA reveal that the security of the Prime Ministerís official Boeing-737, which was returning from Ranchi was not breached and all standard operating procedures (sops) were maintained.

The blip was seen on the radar screens of the air traffic controllers in Delhiís airport right behind the Prime Ministerís Boeing and it appeared to be chasing the VIP plane throwing the IAF and security and aviation agencies into a tizzy.

Today it has been found that there was some form of equipment failure localised in the transponder of an IAF Dornier that had caused the blip on the screens, which seemed to be chasing the PMís plane.

It has been found that the dornier was flying behind and above the VIP flight path and was in no way on the flight path of the PMís aircraft.

The IAF Boeing with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on board landed safely on runway number 28 at the IGI airport, 16 minutes behind schedule as it was asked by the ATC to hover over for some more time.

A team of officials had an emergency drill on the ground. They had been quickly put in place as the ATC advised the pilot of the PMís aircraft to switch off the instrument landing system, which enabled automatic landing. They then guided the plane on a changed flight path manually, while making the final approach.



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