National Highway doubles as runway

National Highway doubles as runway

Four-seater aircraft makes emergency landing in Betul due to bad weather

National Highway doubles as runway

A four-seater private aircraft with only the pilot on board made an emergency landing on a highway in Madhya Pradesh in rough weather today prompting aviation regulator DGCA to launch a probe.

The pilot was unharmed as the spectacle of the small aircraft touching down the highway in the morning hours brought traffic to a halt while leaving motorists startled.

"The Mumbai unit of the DGCA has started its probe into the incident. It has also written to the Baitul district magistrate on the issue," DGCA sources told PTI here tonight.

The district administration is expected to give its response to the communication tomorrow, sources said.

The small aircraft, said to be Piper PA-30, belonging to NRI Sam Verma, was on a regular sortie when it was apparently caught in strong winds and forced to land on a four-lane highway, about 180 KM from state capital Bhopal.

Dramatic TV footage showed the aircraft's descent amidst wooded surroundings and electric poles as traffic was brought to a halt for safe landing. The plane, with insignia VT-EUC, landed safely and pulled up yards away from rows of trucks parked on the roadside.

According to local authorities, the pilot had initially sought permission to land near the Sapna dam which was denied for security reasons.

The pilot, who was on board alone, was unharmed.

Betul Collector Rajesh Prasad Mishra said the Department of Civil Aviation and Air Traffic Control would be asked to explain who had given permission for landing after which the next course of action would be decided.

According to sources in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, they were awaiting Flight Safety Report (FSR) of the aircraft to be able to ascertain the reason for the emergency touch down.

"We have received this information from the media and have not yet been contacted by the owner. We are also yet to get the FSR. We tried to call up the businessman owner but he is not responding," a DGCA official said.