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Drone sighting forces runway shutdown at Delhi airport

Security agencies could not locate or bring down the drone. According to officials, the drone was spotted around 5pm by the pilot of a Chennai-bound flight of IndiGo that had just taken off.

delhi Updated: Aug 10, 2018 03:40 IST
Anvit Srivastava
Anvit Srivastava
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Drone,runway,Delhi airport
One of the three runways at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport was closed for over an hour on Thursday after the pilot of a Chennai-bound flight spotted an unidentified flying object and alerted air traffic control. (Picture for representation)

One of the three runways at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport was closed for over an hour on Thursday after the pilot of a Chennai-bound flight spotted an unidentified flying object and alerted air traffic control.

While an air traffic control (ATC) official claimed that the subsequent runway closure led to delays in departure of a number of flights, DIAL — which is Delhi’s airport operator — said that flight operations remained unaffected.

Security agencies could not locate or bring down the drone. According to officials, the drone was spotted around 5pm by the pilot of a Chennai-bound flight of IndiGo that had just taken off.

The pilot immediately alerted ATC, which in turn alerted Security Operations Control Centre (SOCC). The SOCC got in touch with other agencies and officers of the Indian Air Force, who remain stationed at the Delhi ATC, were also alerted.

“The runway remained closed for around 72 minutes. As reported by the pilot, the drone was flying at about 2,000 feet and was some three nautical miles from the active runway. Our quick reaction teams were deployed and spotters were alerted. An exercise to sanitise the periphery was undertaken,” said a senior CISF officer.

DIAL, the airport operator, said that ATC reconfigured the runway use pattern until the area was given the all-clear by authorities.

An officer from the DGCA said that, at a given time, each end of a runway is dedicated for either departures or arrivals. “The departure side of the runway was closed as the drone was sighted in that direction. Meanwhile, other runways were being actively used,” the officer said.

Deputy commissioner of police (IGIA), Sanjay Bhatia said that flying of drone or any such item near the airport is prohibited. “A case was registered under Section 188 of the IPC for disobedience to order promulgated by public servant. We are checking further,” the DCP said

First Published: Aug 10, 2018 03:40 IST