The West Bengal government last week ordered a probe after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s chartered flight experienced mid-air turbulence.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said Banerjee’s aircraft ran into turbulence as it hit a deep air-pocket. However, the state government and the Trinamool Congress rebuffed the report, claiming there was a goof-up and that the pilot’s action averted an accident.
What happened on March 4
On March 4, Banerjee was returning to Kolkata from Lucknow after an election campaign. She boarded a chartered flight but faced air turbulence just before landing at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International airport. The Chief Minister hurt her back during the turbulence and doctors advised her to take rest.
However, Kolkata International Airport authority sources informed that no one was injured in the incident and the pilot managed to land safely.
On Saturday, West Bengal Home Secretary BP Gopalika sought a reply from DGCA over the cause of turbulence. According to sources, the state government has ordered a probe, led by aviation expert and advisor to the state government on aviation, Captain Siddharth.
Meanwhile, TMC’s mouthpiece ‘Jago Bangla’, in an editorial, expressed concern over the incident and asked why the chief minister was repeatedly facing such incidents during air travel.
During a media briefing, Banerjee said, “Plane escaped collision due to pilot’s efficiency. The plane climbed down 8,000 ft when another plane came in front of my aircraft suddenly. Not received any report from ATC & DGCA so far.”
This is not the first time that Banerjee has encountered troubles during air travel.
In November 2016, while returning from Patna, Mamata’s aircraft had hovered over Kolkata skies for over half an hour before landing, despite the plane reportedly running low on fuel.
Next year, in August, an Air India flight in which the chief minister was scheduled to return to Kolkata from Delhi was delayed by nearly four hours.
In February 2018, while on her way back to Kolkata, Banerjee’s flight from Bagdogra had hovered for around 30 minutes as no runway was free.
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