‘Drones’ force IGI to halt flight ops for two hours
Unidentified flying objects spotted in 2 separate instances
There was panic at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) here after two pilots allegedly spotted unidentified flying objects near the airport on Sunday morning and evening.
Besides the security scare, which is being probed by investigating agencies, flight operations at the airport were suspended for close to an hour both in the morning and evening causing inconvenience to passengers.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (IGI) S.K. Bhatia said flight operations were suspended from 7.10 p.m. to 7.55 p.m.
A few minutes before suspension of flight operations in the evening, the pilot of Air Asia flight from Goa approaching Delhi airport for landing spotted a drone-like object in the vicinity and alerted the Air Traffic Control (ATC).
The ATC alerted the Airport Operations Control Centre, which further roped in the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel and the Delhi Police.
According to the CISF, the ATC was asked to suspend all flight operations due for landing or take off and all three runways were closed.
This led to diversion of certain flights. Following this, the area was scanned as per standard operating procedure.
“The pilot told us that the drone was seen on the approach path towards Dwarka, near the airport. The local police were alerted, while CISF commandos and Quick Response Teams checked the entire airport area to ensure there were no suspicious items,” said a senior CISF officer.
In the morning, the pilot of China Airlines flight CI-18 noticed a flying object at the time of landing and alerted the officials concerned. The flight landed safely and runway 28/10 was closed from 11. 20 a.m. to 12.20 p.m., said an airport official.
Stating that separate cases have been registered, the police said teams have been sent to the area and the local district police alerted to trace the owner of the drones.
Similar incidents have been reported in the past too. UFOs were spotted near the airport in 2016, sending security agencies in a tizzy. On March 31, a UFO was spotted over the airport’s apron area but disappeared before security forces could reach the spot. That same month, a balloon-like object was spotted close to an operational runway at the airport.