Crew of intruder aircraft being questioned

June 20th, 2009 - 12:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, June 20 (IANS) Security agencies were engaged Saturday in questioning the crew of a Russian-make cargo aircraft which was ordered to land in Mumbai late Friday night after it violated Indian air space, according to an official.
There is no indication so far whether it was a genuine error on the part of the pilot or otherwise, the official said.

The civil cargo carrier, AN-124-100, was directed by the Mumbai Air Traffic Control (ATC) to change path and land at the airport here, which it complied with.

“Since the aircraft obeyed the ATC instructions and changed its path, there was no need for the IAF (Indian Air Force) to be directly involved in the matter. Contrary to speculation, the IAF did not provide any escort to the aircraft,” an official spokesman for the ministry of defence told IANS Saturday morning.

The probe is being handled by a team of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). However, no defence personnel are involved in the inquiry.

The aircraft is stationed in the parking bay of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) amid high security.

Though no official was willing to confirm, the aircraft is reported to be carrying a cargo of military trucks.

The cargo carrier, chartered to the US, was proceeding from a military base in Diego Garcia to Kandahar, and entered Indian air space illegally.

The Indian Air Force detected the violation when the alien aircraft was seen flying over north-west Gujarat skies.

The Mumbai Air Traffic Control and the IAF ordered it to divert to Mumbai and land here even as the security set-up was put in high gear.

It landed at the airport around 10.45 p.m. and was directed to the parking bay amid tight security.

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