Nearly a year after President Pratibha Patil’s helicopter had a close shave at the Mumbai airport, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) have come up with the standard operating procedure (SOP) for VVIP flight movement.
“The differences have finally been resolved and the IAF and the Airports Authority of India have come up with a joint SOP regarding VVIP flight movement,” a senior official said.
The decision to come up with a joint procedure was taken at a meeting called by Indian aviation regulator the Directorate General of Civil Aviation on January 15.
“This was a crucial issue that had been hanging fire for a long time. The AAI SOP is civil-oriented, while the IAF one is defence-oriented and there was no synergy between them,” the official said.
A possible disaster was averted at the Mumbai airport on February 8 when an IAF chopper of President Pratibha Patil’s fleet landed on the runway that was to be used by an Air India plane. The aircraft pilot was forced to abort the take off at the last moment.
The joint investigation team that inquired into the incident talked about the difference between the SOPs of IAF and AAI and stressed on the need to harmonise them, the official said.
Air operations will remain suspended for three minutes prior to take-off and landing of a VVIP flight at an airport, the civil aviation ministry has decided.