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Gajraj not ours, says air force

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By OUR BUREAU in Guwahati
  • Published 11.02.09

Dibrugarh/Shillong/Guwahati, Feb. 11: The IL-76 Gajraj, which came within seconds of colliding with an Air India plane in the air space between Dibrugarh and Jorhat yesterday, belonged to the Aviation Research Centre under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and not the Indian Air Force.

Clarifying this, an IAF official in Shillong also said the air force had not initiated any probe into the incident as the aircraft did not belong to it.

Wing Commander Mahesh Upasani, the officiating PRO of Eastern Air Command, also told The Telegraph over phone from Delhi that the IAF had not manned the Jorhat Air Traffic Control as reported yesterday.

He said though the aircraft did not belong to the IAF, it would take lessons from the incident and added that the air force was committed to strictly follow flight safety measures.

In the meantime, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has begun an investigation into the incident.

An official at Mohanbari airport, Dibrugarh, said a team from the DGCA was expected in Dibrugarh soon.

“We have sent a detailed report to our corporate office in New Delhi. We have also kept the tapes containing the transcripts of the conversation between the pilot and people who were at the Dibrugarh ATC when the incident took place,” Mohanbari airport controller S.K. Mullick said.

“Going by preliminary findings, we can say the incident occurred beyond the jurisdiction of Dibrugarh ATC. Still, we are conducting an inquiry and the duty officer has been removed as an interim measure,” he added, without revealing the official’s name.

A source at the ARC, Doomdooma, said the aircraft, a cargo plane, had landed safely at their base last evening. He said the aircraft was carrying “crucial equipment along with some of their own men”.

A source in the regional office of the Airports Authority of India at Borjhar said the investigation and vigilance wing of the DGCA would conduct the inquiry to ascertain what led to the incident.

He said the probe would definitely bring out the truth because all transcripts of communication between the pilots and the ATCs were recorded.