US plane made to land in Mumbai

Aircraft was carrying marines and passengers; IAF allows flight to resume

US plane made to land in Mumbai

A US aircraft carrying Marines landed at the Mumbai airport for violating Indian airspace on Sunday. AP

After remaining grounded for a few hours, the Boeing 767 plane, belonging to North American Airlines and on a flight from Fujiriah in the UAE to Utapao in Bangkok, was allowed by the Indian Air Force (IAF) to resume its flight following a probe.

IAF spokesperson Wing Commander T K Singha said in New Delhi the Directorate General of Civil Aviation will decide when the airplane will take off.

However, due to the pilot’s Flight Duty Time Limitations  the aircraft is likely to take off on Monday. “A US aircraft with 205 passengers, including its crew and US troops on board, was made to land in Mumbai while flying over Indian airspace as there was some confusion about its call sign,” a Mumbai airport official said.

Two clearances

Singha said the transport aircraft had “civilian clearance from the DGCA to fly over Indian airspace. However, it was carrying military personnel, for which the aircraft should have obtained Air Operation Routing clearance, needed for a military aircraft,” he said.

Foreign military aircraft have to obtain two sets of clearances before flying over India.
A US embassy spokesperson termed the issue as a “routine matter” and said “we are in touch with relevant officials to resolve” it. Once the aircraft entered Indian air space, the IAF ordered the plane through radio communication to land in Mumbai, to which it complied with, Singha said.

Pilot’s duty hours

A Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) spokesperson said in Mumbai: “The aircraft will not take-off today (Sunday) as the pilot has crossed his flying duty hours.” The plane landed at Mumbai airport at 7:52 am and was parked at a remote bay and all the passengers remained inside till the inquiry was completed.

The US Embassy was arranging for visa documents of the 205 passengers on board. “The US Embassy is arranging for visa, immigration and staying facilities for all the passengers,” the MIAL spokesperson said.

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