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Another mid-air collision averted near West Bengal

February 10, 2009 23:13 IST

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A potential mid-air disaster was averted on Tuesday when an Air India [Images] Airbus, on a flight from Dibrugarh to Kolkata with 43 passengers on board, and an Indian Air Force plane came dangerously close to each other over Jorhat airspace, a day after a civilian plane narrowly missed colliding with the President's helicopter in Mumbai [Images].

The Air India flight -- IC-206 -- came dangerously close to an IAF plane when it was traveling from Dibrugarh to Kolkata at around 1.30 pm, sources said in New Delhi [Images]. The IAF plane was believed to be a transport aircraft.

The AI plane later landed safely at Kolkata, they said. An Air India spokesman said in Kolkata that the Airbus pilot, after finding the IAF aircraft in the vicinity, alerted the Dibrugarh Air Traffic Control and descended to a lower height.

"Like any responsible pilot, our pilot descended the Airbus to be on the safe side and landed safely at the Kolkata International Airport," he told PTI.

The spokesman maintained that the two aircraft were not on the same flight path and there was no possibility of a collision.

The incident occurred a little after the Airbus took off from Dibrugarh at 11.55 am. It landed at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport at 1.20 pm, he said.

According to preliminary reports, the mid-air scare happened when the two airplanes were at an altitude of between 17,000 and 18,000 feet.

The Air India spokesman stressed that it would not be correct to infer that the two aircraft were close to each other or 'at an alarming distance'. The spokesman did not name the pilot.

"He used his presence of mind and acted responsibly," he said.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation will conduct a probe into the incident, sources said.

On Monday, an Air India pilot averted collision with an IAF chopper on presidential duty on the runway in Mumbai airport, after he aborted the take-off at the last minute. There were about 150 persons in the civilian plane.

An Eastern Air Command official said in Shillong, "We are looking into the matter. We are yet to get an official confirmation about what actually happened."




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