New Delhi/Bangalore: The country's civil aviation regulator on Friday said that it has set up a two-member panel to investigate into the cause of a snag reported in the aircraft which ferried Congress President Rahul Gandhi to Hubballi in Karnataka on Thursday. According to a senior official with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) a "Falcon 2000 aircraft VT-AVH was involved in an incident while operating flight" from New Delhi to Hubballi.
"Operator has reported the incident to DGCA. As per operator report, it was snag of autopilot mode and pilot shifted to manual mode and aircraft landed safely. Autopilot failure incidents are not uncommon," a senior DGCA official told IANS in New Delhi. "For any VIP flight DGCA investigates thoroughly. DGCA has set up a two member committee."
However, Hubballi Airport Director Ahilya S. Kakodikar said that no complaint has been received from the pilot of an aircraft which reportedly developed a snag when Gandhi was flying in it on Thursday. "Neither the pilot nor the air traffic control (ATC) complained to me about the snag," Hubballi airport Director Ahilya S. Kakodikar told reporters.
The director of the airport, which is managed by the state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI), also stressed that the aircraft had landed safely. "It was a safe landing. In case of any abnormalities, the ATC would have recorded it," she said. The Congress on Thursday complained to the Karnataka Police that the Falcon 2000 aircraft in which Gandhi and four others flew to Hubballi, about 400km northwest of state capital Bengaluru, from Delhi had suffered a mid-air snag.
The complaint, addressed to the state's Director General of Police Neelamani N. Raju, requested the state police chief to "ground" the aircraft at Hubballi and investigate the malfunction. Based on the complaint by Congress official Shakir Sanadi, the police in Hubballi lodged a First Information Report late on Thursday. Gandhi arrived in Hubballi around 11.25 a.m. on Thursday on a two-day visit to the state to launch the party's campaign for the May 12 assembly elections.