Sudden radar blip causes scare on PM’s flight(Lead)

April 23rd, 2008 - 12:57 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, April 22 (IANS) The Palam airport here was put on high alert Tuesday evening after the air traffic control noticed a sudden blip on the radar screen when an Indian Air Force Boeing 737 carrying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was preparing to land. However, the plane touched down safely, officials said. The blip caused a scare and delayed the landing by 18 minutes as the pilots switched off the aircraft’s instrument landing system and manually guided the plane on a changed flight path during the final approach.

The blip - “an unidentified object”, as one official put it - appeared when Singh’s plane entered Delhi’s airspace. The prime minister was returning to the capital from Jamshedpur in Jharkhand.

“All the security agencies were put on high alert as soon the blip appeared,” an air traffic control official told IANS, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“The blip has not been identified yet. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation and security agencies are probing the matter,” the official added.

A spokesperson of the civil aviation ministry told IANS: “The plane was diverted over the Delhi airspace for 18 minutes and has landed safely. The Airports Authority of India will be investigating the incident.”

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