New Delhi [India], October 3 (ANI): A passenger jet operated by Mahan Air, which was on its way from Tehran to Guangzhou in China hovered in Indian airspace for about 40 minutes, before it was allowed to leave India after getting clearance by Iranian authorities, according to an official.
According to sources, inputs were received at 9:20 am on Monday by Delhi Police about a bomb threat on board the Airbus A340 aircraft after which Indian Air Force jets were scrambled to intercept the aircraft.
Indian Air Force Su-30MKI fighter jets from Halwara (Punjab) and Jodhpur airbases were scrambled to intercept the flight which was moving towards the New Delhi airspace.
Speaking to ANI, Sanjay Tomar, Deputy Chief Fire officer said, "At around 9.25 am we were informed of a bomb scare after which we put our teams in a stand-by position but the flight did not land. We were given an all-clear message at 10.05 am by security".
"They might have had some suspicion about the bomb scare, so we were kept on alert for it. We had positioned our vehicles. We had two fire unit vehicles positioned with assistant regional officers and reinforcements are sent as and when required," he added.
According to the IAF officials, the plane was allowed to continue its flight towards China after Iranian agencies asked the force to "disregard the threat".
"The Indian Air Force jets were scrambled after the information was received and we were following it maintaining a safe distance as per the standard operating procedures. However, the aircraft was allowed to continue on its flight towards China after Iranian agencies asked us to disregard the threat," the sources said, adding that they continued to follow the China-bound flight closely till the time it left Indian airspace.
After an alert was triggered, permission was not granted for the plane to land in Delhi and the plane was instructed by Air Traffic Control (ATC) to divert to Jaipur. Reportedly the pilot refused to divert the plane following which Indian Air Force jets were scrambled to intercept and escort the plane.
Data from Filghtradar24 showed the plane reducing altitude over the Delhi-Jaipur airspace for a brief period before it was seen making its way out of Indian airspace.
According to ATC sources, Mahan Air requested for immediate landing at Delhi airport but Delhi ATC directed it to head to Jaipur Airport. The pilots of the Iranian carrier did not do so and eventually left Indian airspace.
The nature of the bomb threat is still unclear.
Meanwhile, the IAF said that Mahan Air flight had exited the Indian airspace.
"On October 3, intimation was received of a bomb scare on an aircraft bearing Iranian registration, when it was transiting through Indian airspace. IAF fighter aircraft were scrambled, which followed the aircraft at a safe distance. Aircraft was offered the option to land at Jaipurthen, at Chandigarh. But the pilot declared his unwillingness to divert to either of them. After a while intimation was received from Tehran to disregard the bomb scare. Aircraft continued on its journey towards final destination," the Indian Air Force said in a statement.
"All actions were taken by IAF as per laid down procedure, jointly with the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA)Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS). The aircraft was under close radar surveillance by the Air Force throughout the Indian airspace," the IAF said. (ANI)