Crew of Russian Cargo Aircraft Being Questioned

Security agencies are interrogating the crew of a Russian-make cargo aircraft which was instructed to land in Mumbai late Friday night after it infringed Indian air space, said an official.

The official said that there was no indication hitherto if landing was a genuine error on the part of the pilot or otherwise.

The cargo aircraft AN-124-100 was instructed by the Mumbai Air Traffic Control (ATC) to change path and land at the airport here, which it complied with.

“Since the aircraft obeyed the ATC instructions and changed its path, there was no need for the IAF (Indian Air Force) to be directly involved in the matter. Contrary to speculation, the IAF did not provide any escort to the aircraft,” an official spokesman for the ministry of defence said on Saturday morning.

In the probe handled by a team of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), no defence personnel has been involved in the inquiry so far.

The aircraft is stationed in the parking bay of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) amid high security.

The aircraft is reported to be carrying a cargo of military trucks, though no official is willing to confirm the reports.

The cargo carrier, chartered to the US, was proceeding from a military base in Diego Garcia to Kandahar, and entered Indian air space illegally.

The Indian Air Force detected the violation when the alien aircraft was seen flying over north-west Gujarat skies.

The Mumbai Air Traffic Control and the IAF ordered it to divert to Mumbai and land here even as the security set-up was put in high gear.

It landed at the airport around 10.45 pm and was directed to the parking bay amid tight security.

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