A four-seater private aircraft, with only the pilot on board, made an emergency landing on a highway in Madhya Pradesh in rough weather on Tuesday, prompting the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to launch a probe.

The pilot was unharmed. But the spectacle of the small aircraft touching down on the highway in the morning hours startled motorists and brought the traffic to a halt.

“The Mumbai unit of the DGCA has started its probe… It has also written to the Baitul district magistrate on the issue,” sources in the DGCA told PTI here on Tuesday night.

The district administration was expected to give its response to the communication on Wednesday, the sources said.

The small aircraft, said to be Piper PA-30 belonging to NRI Sam Verma, was on a regular sortie when it was caught in strong winds and forced to land on the four-lane highway, about 180 km from Bhopal.

Dramatic TV footage showed the aircraft’s descent amid wooded surroundings and electric poles as traffic was brought to a halt for safe landing. The plane, with insignia VT-EUC, landed safely and pulled up yards away from rows of trucks parked on the roadside.

Local authorities said the pilot had initially sought permission to land near the Sapna dam, but it was denied for security reasons.

Betul Collector Rajesh Prasad Mishra said the Department of Civil Aviation and the Air Traffic Control would be asked to explain who had given permission for landing. Thereafter, the next course of action would be decided.

The sources said they were awaiting the Flight Safety Report (FSR) of the aircraft to ascertain the reason for the emergency landing.

“We have received this information from the media and have not yet been contacted by the owner. We are also yet to get the FSR. We tried to call up the owner, but he is not responding,” an official of the DGCA said.