The radar blip on the flight path of the Prime Minister’s special plane that created a mid-air scare on Tuesday evening was caused by an Indian Air Force aircraft, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said on Wednesday. The incident cannot be considered a serious security lapse, Patel added.
“It was not a serious security lapse, and the flight which was spotted on the path of Prime Minister’s plane was of Indian Air Force. The air force plane, a Dornier, was at a reasonable distance from the PM’s plane,” he told reporters.
“Preliminary investigation has revealed that there was some mix up in the signals. But to be sure, we are waiting for the detailed investigation report,” he added.
In New Delhi, officials said a preliminary inquiry had found there was no security breach, and all standard operating procedures (SOPs) were maintained.
“There was also no systemic failure and no breach of any procedure…The security of the Prime Minister’s aircraft was not endangered. The mandatory twenty nautical miles separation was maintained throughout,” they said, adding that “some form of equipment failure localised in the transponder of the IAF Dornier-228 aircraft” had caused the blip on the screens which seemed to be chasing the PM’s plane.
The blip was seen on the radar screens of the air traffic controllers at Delhi airport as the special IAF Boeing 737 flying the PM from Ranchi came in to land. The PM’s aircraft hovered overhead for a while before it was brought in to land 16 minutes late on a changed flight path with the instrument landing system switched off and a full emergency drill in place on the ground.