NATIONAL

Alert as Sushma’s flight loses contact with ATC

“Later, at 16.58 IST, IFC 31 came in contact with the Mauritius ATC and landed,” the statement said.

The Meghdoot Embraer 135 aircraft was traced after the Mauritius ATC activated INCERFA, the code for a situation in which uncertainty exists over the safety of an aircraft and its occupants.

The AAI said such warnings are normally issued only after 30 minutes of losing contact with the ATC. But in this case it may have been generated earlier because the plane was carrying a VIP. An IAF source, however, said loss of communication while flying long distance over seas is “normal”.

An AAI official, who termed the incident a grave security lapse, said communication can be erratic on such routes due to the poor quality of Very High Frequency (VHF) communication over the radar system.

Failure of pilots to establish contact with ATC, snag in on-board equipment and frequency issues lead to loss of contact, an air traffic controller said.

IAF pilots also do not maintain constant touch and often the ATC had to call to maintain contact while operating in Indian airspace, he said.

Ms. Swaraj was on her way to South Africa for a five-day visit for BRICS and IBSA meetings.

She had arrived from Delhi in the same aircraft and took off after completing Customs and other formalities, a senior AAI official toldThe Hindu.