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Presidential fleet choppers not wrong, says Air Force chief

Last updated on: February 11, 2009 14:05 IST

Air chief Fali H Major said on Wednesday that the pilots of the three helicopters of the Presidential fleet were not in the wrong in Mumbai where a possible collision with an Air India was averted on Monday.
        
"Remember that these three helicopters were flown by some of the most experienced pilots in the Air Force flying
the President. This should be understood very clearly. They were not aware of the Air India aircraft because it was on the tower frequency. So, there was no contact between the two aircraft," Major told media-persons in Bengaluru.
         
He was reacting to media reports blaming the pilot of the helicopter who landed dangerously close to the Air India plane allegedly without clearance from the Air Traffic Control.

Noting that the three helicopters with President Pratibha Patil and her entourage were coming from Mumbai's
naval base INS Kunjali to Santa Cruz airport, Major said,

"They were on radar frequency of the Santa Cruz control. You should remember that no aircraft, no helicopter or no pilot can change frequency unless asked to change frequency by the ATC," he said.
      
The Air Chief Marshal said that the helicopters were asked on the frequency to land "in sequence 2, 1 and 3.
      
"1 carrying the President, 2 was security. The three aircraft were specifically cleared by Bombay ATC on this
frequency to land on runway 27," he said.
      
"So when they were cleared, they came and landed," he said.
       
Major said, "Probably there is a need to fine tune the procedure from the side of DGCA or the civil aviation because
my pilots will stick to the frequency they were asked to stick to. That's it."

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