Flight operations were suspended twice today at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here after “drone-like objects” were spotted on the runways on two different occasions. The country’s busiest airport saw operations getting halted for an hour in the morning and around 45 minutes late in the evening amid security concerns following the spotting of the objects, sources said. Dozens of flights were impacted due to halting of operations twice during the day and the Delhi Police would be registering a case on the incidents.
Around 1116 hours, a pilot of a China Airline flight (CI 181) coming from Taipei to New Delhi noticed a flying object at the time of landing at runway 28/10, which was shut thereafter for operations from 1120 to 1220 hours, airport security sources said. The China Airline could not be immediately contacted for comments. Again a “drone-like object” was spotted by an AirAsia pilot around 1910 hours, following which operations were suspended on all three runways of the airport for about 45 minutes. Flight operations resumed at 1955 hours after clearance from the Delhi Police, the sources said.
An AirAsia India spokesperson said the pilots of flight i5 799 from Goa to New Delhi spotted an “unidentified object” flying close to the aircraft while landing at runway 11 of the airport. “Our pilots followed normal procedure and carried out an uneventful landing. Upon landing, the pilot reported the incident to the Air Traffic Controller as per their reporting procedure that they have been trained for,” the spokesperson said in a statement. The airline has also filed a report with aviation regulator DGCA.
“We will be registering a case under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code,” DCP (Indira Gandhi International Airport) Sanjay Bhatia said, when asked about the two incidents at the airport. Section 188 pertains to disobedience to order that has been duly promulgated by a public servant. The DGCA has banned the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, which includes drones, for commercial use. Following the shutdown of runways in the evening, two Air India flights were diverted to Lucknow and Ahmedabad while one flight each of GoAir and IndiGo was diverted to Jaipur.
An airport spokesperson was not immediately available for comments. Earlier also there have been incidents of unidentified flying objects being spotted in the vicinity of Delhi airport. The airport, which has three runways, is the busiest in the country and handles around 1,200 flight movements everyday. During peak time, the airport handles up to 70 flights per hour.