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DGCA probes snag in Rahul's aircraft, PM speaks to Cong chief

Source: PTI
April 27, 2018 21:12 IST
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Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said the government has ordered a detailed inquiry and appropriate action would be taken in case anything is 'found wanting'.

Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation has set up a two-member committee to probe the incident of technical snag in a chartered plane that was carrying Congress president Rahul Gandhi, a senior official said.

The incident happened during landing of the flight from New Delhi at Hubballi in north Karnataka on Thursday.


Alleging 'intentional tampering' with aircraft, the Congress party had on Thursday demanded a probe into the 'suspicious and faulty performance' of the 10-seater Falcon 2000.

"The Directorate General of Civi Aviation (DGCA) has set up a two member panel to investigate the incident. While one member is from the Directorate of Air Safety, the other member is from the Directorate of Airworthiness," a senior DGCA official told PTI.

The panel has been asked to submit its report in the next 2-3 weeks, the official added.

Cops probing the incident also said they are waiting for technical experts to examine the flaws and submit a report, even as a senior airport official maintained that there was nothing 'unusual' in the aircraft's landing.

As part of the probe, the DGCA official said the panel would call cockpit crew and also engineers for questioning about the incident.

If required, the committee might also call the operations staff of the particular aircraft to gather details, the official said.

On Thursday, a senior DGCA official had confirmed that the aircraft had suffered 'technical snag'.

"According to the operator's report, it was a snag of auto pilot mode and the pilot shifted to the manual (mode) and landed (the aircraft) safely," he had said, adding that shutdown of auto pilot (mode) incidents are not uncommon.

"For any VIP flight, the DGCA examines it in detail. We shall do that here also," the official had said.

In a letter to Karnataka State DGP Neelmani N Raju, Gandhi's close aide Kaushal Vidyarthi had said the weather was normal.

'It was apparent from the suspicious and faulty performance of the aircraft that the incidents of shuddering and altitude dipping were not natural or weather-related, but were due to some technical snag...,' the letter had said.

On Vidyarthi's complaint, a first information report was lodged under Indian Penal Code Sections 287 (negligent conduct with respect to machinery) and 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others), the police said.

"We are waiting for the experts from the DGCA to come as we have no technical knowledge on the subject.

"Based on their report, we will take further action," Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), North Hubballi, H K Pathan, who is the investigating officer in the case, said.

Meanwhile, Hubballi Airport Director Ahalya S K continued to maintain that there was nothing unusual in the manner in which the plane had landed on Thursday.

"The plane had landed safely and nobody had complained to me about anything," she told PTI.

In Bengaluru, state Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy said the police was investigating the matter.

In his complaint, Vidyarthi had demanded a probe into the 'suspicious and faulty performance' of the aircraft before it landed.

'Serious questions related to intentional tampering with the aircraft cannot also be brushed aside and are requested to be addressed and investigated,' the complaint said.

Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary Shakir Sanadi has also filed a complaint with the Hubballi police, naming the two pilots of the plane.

PM called Rahul after the incident

Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned Rahul Gandhi just before leaving for China on Thursday to enquire about his safety after the incident, Congress sources said.

Gandhi received the call around 2.30 pm, the sources added.

"It was a private conversation between the two (over phone). All the authorities concerned were informed about the plane developing snag. After that, the prime minister rang up Gandhi enquiring if he was fine," a source told PTI.

Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu on Friday said the government has ordered a detailed inquiry into the incident and that appropriate action would be taken in case anything is 'found wanting'.

"As soon as I heard about this issue, I directed the DGCA to conduct a detailed inquiry and to find out the cause of it.

"If there is anything found wanting and whoever is responsible for it, we will take appropriate action," he told reporters.

A Civil Aviation Ministry official said in Delhi: "It would be premature to comment on anything now including the tampering theory. We will await the (DGCA) probe report."

The official said the DGCA would probe all the angles like in any such case involving a VIP aircraft.

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