Air force blames airports body for PM security scare (Second Lead)

April 23rd, 2008 - 11:05 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) The Indian Air Force (IAF) Wednesday blamed the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for the security scare Tuesday when one of its planes came close to a special aircraft carrying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The IAF denied the AAI claim that the transponder (equipment in the aircraft transmitting data about the location of the plane) of the IAF Dornier aircraft was faulty.

“The transponder of the air force plane was not faulty,” a defence official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The IAF also said it was not responsible for the movement of the aircraft.

“Every thing flying in Delhi’s skies, except birds, comes under the air traffic controller (ATC). The IAF aircraft came near the PM’s plane because of ATC’s instructions,” the official said.

“We take all our instructions regarding height, direction, speed and even call signs from ATC,” he added.

A mid-air security scare occurred Tuesday when a blip or an “unidentified target” was reported on the radar by the Indira Gandhi International airport ATC even as the special aircraft carrying the prime minister was about to land.

An emergency drill was quickly put in place on the ground while the air traffic controllers asked the pilot of the prime minister’s aircraft to hover over Delhi airport for nearly 16 minutes before finally giving clearance for landing.

Investigations later revealed that the IAF Dornier aircraft was flying “behind and above” the designated flight path for the prime minister and other special aircrafts.

AAI investigators are probing the radar functioning and whether it erred in detecting the flight parameters of the Dornier aircraft.

The IAF Boeing 737, with the prime minister on board, landed safely though 16 minutes behind schedule. The prime minister was returning to New Delhi from Jamshedpur in Jharkhand.

The prime minister Tuesday laid the foundation stone for the Rs.90 billion modernization and expansion project of the Bokaro Steel Plant.

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