Probe into near-disaster at Mumbai airport begins

February 10th, 2009 - 3:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha PatilMumbai, Feb 10 (IANS) The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has begun a probe into Monday’s incident where an Air India aircraft escaped crashing into President Pratibha Patil’s entourage of helicopters at the airport here, an official with the regulator said.

The president was inside one of three choppers that were part of her entourage, and it was in a fraction of seconds that the mishap was averted at 9:17 a.m.

An eight-member DGCA team led by joint director general (investigation) A.K. Chopra met the air traffic control (ATC) team at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport here.

The ATC is responsible for monitoring air traffic in and around the airspace of the airport, and according to DGCA, was “aware” of the VVIP movement.

“ATC Mumbai was aware of the presidential visit and watching the approach movement of the presidential convoy of helicopters,” the directorate said in a statement.

The DGCA probe is expected to be completed by the weekend.

In a major safety breach Monday, a chopper from the president’s fleet landed on the same runway on which a Delhi-bound Air India flight with 170 passengers and 10-member was about to take off.

The presidential chopper entourage had, among others, Maharashtra Governor S.C. Jamir, and had taken off from INS Shikra, a naval heliport in Mumbai’s downtown Colaba area. They proceeded to Gondia from Mumbai on an Indian Air Force aircraft.

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