Thursday, December 17, 2009

silly mishap delyas pm departure

17 Dec 2009


From Our Bureau

NEW DELHI: A silly ground mishap at Delhi airport involving Air India's special aircraft readied for the Prime Minister delayed his flight to Copenhagen by nearly four hours. A standby aircraft that is always there as a backup was pressed into service for the PM's travel.

Dr Manmohan Singh was to take the flight at 2.15 pm on Thursday, but his security officials won't take the risk after a cargo van carrying his lugguage bumped into the aircraft body on the engine side.

The security agencies pressed panic button as soon as they heard a big sound from the aircraft, only to learn later that it was caused by the van hitting the aircraft. There worry was that the engine may have been damaged.

Director of the Special Protection Group (SPG) that provides the topmost security cover to the PM and Secretary, security, inspected the dent and
asked the SPG control room to alert the Prime Minister to delay his arrival at the airport.

Both were already present in the technical area of the airport from where the flight was to take off. There was a flutter over the non-availability of senior technical staff sought by the SPG to immediately inspect the damage and give clearance if the aircraft can be used.

Within five minutes, the SPG chief and Secretary, security, took the decision not to take any risk. They chose to dump the damaged aircraft and go for the standby special aircraft of Air India to take the PM to Copenhagen.

Once the decision taken, then began the usual security drill to check everything in the new aircraft, starting with the engine put on to verify working of all systems and equipments. A SPG source said it takes a minimum of three hours to examine the aircraft from all angles before it is given a green signal to take the VVIP passenger.


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