Thursday, September 3, 2009

Prez chopper landed without ‘ATC clearance’

An experts’ committee, which probed the near-miss incident between a Presidential helicopter and an Air-India plane at Mumbai this February, has found that an IAF chopper of the VVIP entourage landed on the runway making a short circuit and without clearance from the Air Traffic Control. The three-member committee, headed by Director-General Civil Aviation SNA Zaidi, found that one of the three helicopters of the Presidential entourage narrowly missed collision with an Air-India Airbus A-320 that was given clearance to take off from runway 27. The Delhi-bound plane, carrying 155 people, was asked to abort take-off when the chopper landed on the same runway.

The panel found that the Air-India aircraft was “at very high speed of approximately 120 knots” when it rejected take-off, swerved to a taxi track to avoid collision with the helicopter and, in the process, got its main wheel tyre deflated and brakes damaged. The committee has recommended closure of airspace three minutes before and after the take-off and landing of a VVIP aircraft at an airport and strict adherence to instructions in the Bluebook, meant for VVIP security procedures.The panel has also recommended mandatory coordination meetings with the airport and other officials prior to a VVIP flight.

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