Srinagar, June 7: The army’s top officer in Leh allegedly travelled in a commercial flight’s cockpit, where entry is strictly restricted to the crew.
The incident occurred yesterday when Lt Gen. Ravi Dastane, the chief of 14 Corps, was on way to Jammu from Leh on the GoAir plane, official sources said.
“The officer entered the cockpit at Leh itself. For the entire hour-long journey till the plane landed at Jammu, he stayed inside. He was supposed to sit in the seat allotted to him but the two pilots appeared to be his acquaintances and allowed him to stay inside the cockpit,” a source said.
Safety rules prohibit entry of passengers, no matter how much influential they are, into the cockpit.
Director-general of civil aviation Bharat Bhushan said he has ordered a probe. “It is a very serious matter…I got it verified and found it was true,” Bhushan told The Telegraph over phone from Delhi.
Unconfirmed reports say the two pilots were “de-restored” last night. Bhushan denied having “issued any such order” but insisted action would follow.
“The pilots were summoned and their statements recorded. I will take the final call after going through their statements. But obviously the issue cannot be brushed under the carpet.”
A Srinagar-based defence spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel J.S. Brar, refused comment.
Leh’s Kushok Bakula Rinpoche airport is one of the highest in the world, situated at an altitude of 3,256 metres. Pilots fly in and out of the airport are required to be extra careful as there is a mountain close by, requiring steep elevation.
A few weeks back, around 120 passengers on board an Indian Airlines plane had a close shave at the airport when the pilots applied the emergency brakes and aborted takeoff after noticing that one of its two engines was not working.