Panicky woman pilot scripts hijack drama

Capt Rupali Wagmare sent the erroneous signal

Panicky woman pilot scripts hijack drama

A woman pilot on Friday created panic after she sent an erroneous hijack signal from her Air India Express flight following clashes with passengers.

For half an hour, security men were on their toes and the nation in shock as reports of the hijack signal emerged from the Abu Dhabi-Kochi flight which was diverted to Thiruvananthapuram due to foggy conditions in Kochi.

The pilot’s action triggered high drama in Delhi, the State capital and at the airport. Sources told Deccan Herald that the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) called an emergency meeting of the officials concerned to tackle the situation.

In Thiruvananthapruam, Director General of Police Balasubramanniyam and Additional Director General of Police – Intelligence) Hemachandran rushed to the airport with other police officials. As soon as the Air Traffic Control received the hijack signal, fire tenders rushed to the spot and parked close to the aircraft in a sign of readiness to act immediately.

Jawans of the CISF in charge of the airport security  encircled the aircraft and its commandoes stormed it. Amid allegations that the security men punched a male passenger in the abdomen and assaulted another, they swiftly evacuated half of the passengers from the plane. By then, the DGCA had asked the airline to send the passengers on the same flight to Kochi as it realised that the pilot had overreacted. The aviation regulator had indicated that it would take action against the pilot Capt Rupali Wagmare.

While the DGP held talks with passengers and crew members of the flight, the pilot maintained that six male passengers tried to enter the cockpit and hijack the flight. She had given a written complaint to this effect.

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