US plane with marines takes off

33-hour drama at Mumbai Airport ends


The chartered US military plane ready for take-off from the Mumbai Airport on Monday. PTIThe aircraft took off for Utapao in Bangkok from Mumbai International Airport at 5:34 pm,” a Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) spokesperson said. The aircraft left after spending 33 hours and 42 minutes at the Mumbai airport. It was ordered to land in Mumbai on Sunday after it entered Indian airspace without mandatory permission.

The United States military chartered Boeing 767 plane, belonging to North American Airlines, was on way from Fujiriah in the UAE to Utapao in Bangkok.

It landed at Mumbai airport at 7:52 am on Sunday and was parked at a remote bay. The aircraft was made to land in Mumbai while flying over Indian airspace as there was some confusion about its call sign.

The transport aircraft had “civilian clearance” from Directorate General of Civil Aviation  to fly over Indian airspace, Indian Air Force spokesperson Wing Commander T K Singha had said.

“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. Once the aircraft entered Indian air space, the Indian Air Force ordered it through radio communication to land in Mumbai, to which it complied with, Singha said. The aircraft did not take off on Sunday as the pilot had crossed his flying duty hours.
The United States embassy said, “We were pleased that we were able to resolve the procedural matter in an expeditious fashion and appreciate the assistance and cooperation of the Indian authorities”.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Indo-US exercise in Agra, United States air attache to India Colonel Steward Kowal told reporters that the aircraft was made to land in Mumbai due to misunderstanding with call sign.

“We view it as an example of the strength of Indo-US relations. We thank India for resolving the issue quickly,” he said.

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