The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is likely to order a probe into the ‘hijack’ drama involving an Air India Express Abu Dhabi-Kochi flight that was diverted to Thiruvananthapuram international airport owing to inclement weather at the Cochin International Airport at Nedumbaserry.
The inquiry by DGCA Arun Mishra will be on the basis of a detailed report submitted to him by the Director-in-charge of Thiruvananthapuram airport later in the day, Airport Authority of India (AAI) sources told The Hindu.
The report details the ground situation of the ‘hijack’ drama that commenced after the flight of the low-cost carrier of Air India landed at the Thiruvananthapuram airport at 6.30 a.m. from Kochi till it took off from here with a ‘relief crew’ at 2.02 p.m.
As the Anti-Hijack Committee chaired by State Police Chief K. S. Balasubramonian came to the conclusion that there was no move to hijack the Boeing 737-800 aircraft although the Commander had pressed the button to alert the Air Traffic Control (ATC), the report forwarded to the DGCA has also ruled out the ‘hijack’ issue.
The DGCA who heads the Central Anti-Hijack Committee was monitoring the incident from Delhi following the alert sounded by the Commander of the Air India Express flight. AAI sources said the aircraft was released for take-off only after the State Police Chief, who chaired the committee in the absence of the Principal Secretary, Home, informed him that there was no issue of ‘hijack’.
The woman pilot, who is now in the centre of the controversy over pushing the panic button, has 20 years of experience and another three years as Commander, AAI sources said. The Commander was called for the meeting held at the airport and she had told the State Police Chief that some passengers had physically threatened her.
The elite Aviation Security Group (ASG) of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) that keeps vigil at the airport and its premises had surrounded the aircraft after the ATC received the alert. Later, the local police were also called in. AAI sources said the security measures were taken following the alert from the Commander and that she later informed that the situation had been defused. However, the airport authorities and the State Police decided to complete all the formalities as per protocol.