Delhi airport suspends flights for 20 minutes after drone-like object spotted, fourth such case in two weeks
The pilot of an IndiGo flight, coming from Chennai, noticed a flying object during landing which led to closure of runways from 7.30am to 7.50am.Updated: Dec 28, 2017 23:08 IST
Flight operations at Delhi airport were suspended for around 20 minutes on Thursday morning after a pilot of an airline spotted a drone-like object in the area. This was the fourth incident in two weeks, when an unidentified flying object disrupted flight operations at Delhi airport.
On Thursday, the capital’s all three operational runways — 9-27, 10-28 and 11-29 — were closed, which led to at least 25 flights being delayed. In the previous such incidents, only one runway was closed. .
In August, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had come up with a draft regulation allowing use of drones for any purpose but with some restrictions. The government had invited public suggestion within 30 days after that stakeholders consultations have been conducted. Some changes are expected in the draft policy and it is likely to be in place by the first week of January.
But due to lack of any policy, security personnel are not sure how to react whenever any such object is spotted. In every case, the pilot notices the object but the radar does not spot it.
“The pilot spotted the object around four nautical miles away from the high-security Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport, while landing at around 7.30 am and reported the matter to the authorities,” said an official of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which looks after the airport security across the country.
Officials said that as precautionary measures, all three runways in the airport were closed between 7:27am and 7.52am. A team of the CISF, the Delhi Police and the aviation security had rushed to the spot but nothing could be traced. Flight operations resumed only after the authorities finished inspecting the area around the airport and no such object was found.
Flying of drones, an unmanned object, is prohibited in areas near the airport.
The IGI Airport is the busiest in the country and handles around 1,200 flight movements every day. During peak time, the airport handles up to 70 flights per hour.
Early in August this year, flight operations at Delhi airport were halted twice for around two hours after pilots of two airlines spotted a drone-like object in the area even as security agencies went into a tizzy.
Aviation experts also point out the futility of a blanket ban on flying of drones when its sale and purchase hasn’t been regulated.
Websites in India sell unmanned aircrafts like helicopters and aeroplanes which can fly up to more than 1,000 feet.
Those who are selling multi-copters and drones ask buyers to provide government permissions but that’s not enforced strictly in the absence of a law.