THE INDIAN Air Force (IAF) scrambled fighter jets after security agencies received information of a possible bomb on board an Airbus A340 aircraft, operated by Iranian carrier Mahan Air, early Monday, when the plane was in Indian airspace.
The information was received when the aircraft was around 200 km west of Delhi. According to sources, the passenger aircraft was on its way from Tehran to Guangzhou in China when an alert was triggered.
“On October 3, 2022, intimation was received of a bomb scare on an airline bearing Iranian registration, when it was transiting through Indian airspace. IAF fighter aircraft were scrambled, which followed the aircraft at a safe distance. The aircraft was offered the option to land at Jaipur and then at Chandigarh. However, the pilot declared his unwillingness to divert to either of the two airports,” the IAF said in a statement.
The aircraft initially started its descent from its cruising altitude of 35,000 feet to 21,000 feet while in a holding position, around 200 km west of Delhi. It then exited the holding position after nearly 45 minutes, and climbed back to 35,000 feet before flying westward.
“After a while, intimation was received from Tehran to disregard the bomb scare, following which the aircraft continued on its journey towards its final destination. All actions were taken by IAF as per the laid down procedure, jointly with Ministry of Civil Aviation and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security. The aircraft was under close radar surveillance by the Air Force throughout the Indian airspace,” the IAF statement said.
Citing a Mahan Air statement, Iranian news agency IRNA reported that as soon as the pilot was alerted about the possibility of a bomb attack, he informed the control tower and requested an emergency landing in India.
The aircraft later entered Bangladesh airspace, and arrived at its scheduled destination in Guangzhou at around 2.30 pm India time.