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Saturday, Nov 16, 2019

Snag that hit Rahul Gandhi’s flight is not uncommon, says aviation regulator

A special flight carrying Congress president Rahul Gandhi developed “unexplained technical failures” on its way from New Delhi to Hubballi. The party hinted at conspiracy in complaint filed with the Karnataka Police.

india Updated: Apr 27, 2018 13:41 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congress president Rahul Gandhi waves at his party supporters during a campaign ahead of Karnataka Assembly elections 2018 in Honnavar on Thursday.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi waves at his party supporters during a campaign ahead of Karnataka Assembly elections 2018 in Honnavar on Thursday. (PTI)

The snag that hit the special flight carrying Congress president Rahul Gandhi was not ‘uncommon’, a senior DGCA official said

The Congress on Thursday sought an investigation by the Karnataka police after an aircraft carrying Gandhi and four others from Delhi to Hubli developed a glitch.

A senior DGCA official said, “The operator has reported the incident to us (DGCA). 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.

“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 told PTI.

According to a complaint filed by Congress functionary Kaushik Vidyarthee, one of the passengers, the special flight that took off from Delhi around 9:20 am developed “unexplained technical failures” around 10:45 am.

Hinting at the possibility of a conspiracy, the complaint said the plane “shuddered violently”, tilting to one side, while a noise was audible. The complaint also said the autopilot did not function and that the plane landed in Hubballi only on the third attempt.

“It is to be stated that the weather outside was sunny, normal and not windy as per the observation of the passengers and as per the forecast of the day,” the complaint said. “The crew was also petrified and admitted that the flight was particularly frightening and uncommon,” it added.

The pilot and the crew of the aircraft have been questioned, an official at Hubli Airport said on the condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Gandhi is on a two-day tour of Karnataka ahead of the May 12 assembly elections in the state.

“Yes, we have received a complaint about some unexplained turbulence of the aircraft,” Renuka Sukumar, DCP (Law and Order), Hubbali-Dharwad Police, said. “We have registered a complaint under Section 287 (negligent conduct with respect to machinery) and 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the IPC.”

The complaint that names the two pilots was filed by KPCC General Secretary Shakir Sanadi, she said.

Congress’s communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said, “Rahul Gandhi landed safely... a serious accident was averted today.”

Gandhi maintained his composure and tried to calm the co-passengers down, Surjewala added.

Another complaint has been filed with the DGCA, demanding a thorough inquiry into the incident, Surjewala added.