‘Grounded’ US plane with marines takes off

Last Updated: Monday, October 19, 2009 - 18:33

Mumbai: A Bangkok-bound chartered US plane
carrying American marines among 205 passengers, which was
ordered by authorities to land at Mumbai airport for flying
over Indian airspace without getting mandatory military
clearance, took off today after being grounded for over 33
hours.

The aircraft was ordered to land in Mumbai yesterday
after it entered Indian airspace without the permission.

"The necessary regulatory permissions have been worked
out," a Mumbai Air Traffic Control (ATC) official said
here.

The issue relating to payment of navigational charges has
also been sorted out, the official said.

The ATC had earlier rejected the payment for navigational
charges by credit card.

The US military chartered Boeing 767 plane, belonging to
North American Airlines, was on way from Fujiriah in the UAE
to Utapao in Bangkok. It landed at Mumbai airport at 0752
hours yesterday and was parked at a remote bay.

The aircraft was made to land in Mumbai while flying over
Indian airspace as there was some confusion about its call
sign.

The transport aircraft had "civilian clearance from
Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to fly over
Indian airspace," IAF spokesperson Wing Commander T K Singha
had said.

"However, it was carrying military personnel, for which
the aircraft should have obtained Air Operation Routing
clearance (AOR), needed for a military aircraft," he said.

Foreign military aircraft have to obtain two sets of
clearances before flying over India.

Once the aircraft entered Indian air space, the IAF
ordered it through radio communication to land in Mumbai, to
which it complied with, Singha said.

The aircraft did not take off yesterday as the pilot had
crossed his flying duty hours.

The US embassy said, "We were pleased that we were able
to resolve the procedural matter in an expeditious fashion and
appreciate the assistance and cooperation of the Indian
authorities".

Speaking on the sidelines of the Indo-US exercise in
Agra, US air attache to India Colonel Steward Kowal told
reporters that the aircraft was made to land in Mumbai due to
"misunderstanding with call sign".

"We view it as an example of the strength of Indo-US
relations. We thank India for resolving the issue quickly," he
said.

This is the fourth incident of a foreign aircraft
violating rules relating to obtaining of clearance to fly over
Indian airspace or other disputes since June this year.

On June 20, a Ukrainian-made military cargo aircraft
AN-124, operated by a Russian private airline Volga-Dnepr and
chartered by US defence forces for flying out military
equipment from its base in Diego Garcia island to Kandahar in
Afghanistan, was caught in a similar situation.

The IAF had ordered it to land in Mumbai as the aircraft
did not have AOR clearance. It was detained for 24 hours and
was asked to fly out after it obtained necessary clearance.

Bureau Report



First Published: Monday, October 19, 2009 - 18:33

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