Saturday, 4 October 2014

Suspicious object on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s standby aircraft was a plastic wrapper, Air India says

NEW DELHI: The Centre has formed a special panel to investigate the presence of a suspicious object on the Prime Minister's standby aircraft — an Air India Boeing 747 — that was kept parked in Delhi during Narendra Modi's recent trip to the US.

AI's joint MD Syed Nasir Ail and commissioner of aviation security B B Dash will head the panel.

"AI 965 of October 3, 2014, operated on the sector Mumbai-Hyderabad-Jeddah. On landing at Jeddah, cabin crew found a suspicious object and informed the concerned authorities. After screening the aircraft and the object which was found to be a plastic wrapper the Jeddah airport security cleared the aircraft for further operations thereafter," an AI statement said.


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It added: "A committee, under the chairmanship of the joint managing director, Air India and commissioner of security, civil aviation (COSCA) has been formed to investigate the incident. Air India would like to clear that at no point of time was the safety of the passengers or the aircraft compromised."

Sources have indicated that this may have been a security drill to check the preparedness of aviation security agencies.

The Boeing-747 was kept on standby at IGI Airport, which means that it was fully ready to fly out for the PM in case the Jumbo Jet being used by him developed a snag. According to sources, the aircraft was released for commercial operation only after PM Modi landed in Delhi on Thursday night.

"The B-747 was sent on a Delhi-Mumbai-Hyderabad-Jeddah flight. On reaching Jeddah in the early hours of Saturday (India time), security agencies there found a suspicious object that seemed to be a defused grenade inside the business class of the aircraft," said highly placed sources.

The aircraft is now grounded in Jeddah and held back from operating, as per schedule, to Calicut.

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