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Jet Airways flight in near-collision with fighters

Source: PTI
September 21, 2006 18:33 IST
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A Jet Airways Boeing 737 with 89 passengers on Thursday had a miraculous escape after it was involved in a near-collision with a formation of Sukhoi-30 Air Force fighter jets over the airport in Rajkot.

The Boeing developed a technical problem after its pilot resorted to a sudden climb to avoid the fighter jets.

It was grounded after landing at the airport in Rajkot and all the passengers were safe.

The Su-30 jets were participating in the 'Gagan Shakti' air exercise over Rajkot when the incident occurred at about 8.30 am.

Though there was no official version of how the near-miss occurred, reports suggested it was the outcome of a lack of coordination between the Jet crew and the air traffic control.

The Indian Air Force, in a statement issued in Delhi, said "An inquiry has been constituted to look in detail into the matter along with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation."

The Jet flight 9W-345, from Mumbai to Rajkot, had descended to 22,500 feet when it was asked by the ATC to pull up to 23,000 feet.

A Jet spokesman said, "It was on a normal approach to Rajkot as had been prescribed by the ATC through the ACAS (aircraft collision avoidance system). But suddenly the pilot was asked to react and change course. During the sudden climb, the pilot had to use higher power thrust of the engines," he said.

"The captain reacted professionally and took the correct decisions," he said adding, the Boeing's engines were undergoing a routine inspection at Rajkot.

Reports had said the Boeing came within 500 feet of the Su-30s, but the IAF statement said, "Prima facie reports available suggest that the fighter aircraft did not pose any threat to the civil airliner as they were under control of ground-based radar and in visual contact."

The statement said the incident involved the "flying of an IAF fighter formation in proximity of the civil airliner."

Earlier, aviation sources said there was an "inadequate distance" between the Boeing and the IAF jets. "The reason is believed to be a coordination error at the ATC," a source said.

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