An Indian Air Force flight carrying External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj from Thiruvananthapuram to Mauritius went incommunicado for around 14 minutes after leaving the Indian airspace, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) confirmed on Sunday.
The AAI, however, ruled out a mid-air scare despite authorities at the Mauritius Air traffic control activating the emergency code, INCERFA. In the event of a plane losing contact with an air traffic control, INCERFA is activated only after waiting for 30 minutes since its last contact.
Since the IAF flight was carrying a VIP passenger, AAI said, the Mauritius Air traffic control (ATC) must have raised an alarm before the stipulated time. However, the AAI did not elaborate over what caused the delay in making contact with the Mauritius ATC after entering the tiny island’s airspace.
The IAF flight had left for Mauritius from Thiruvananthapuram at 2.08 pm. After it left the Indian airspace, it was handed over to the Male ATC which established contact with the flight at 4.44 pm IST. Soon after it was handed over to the Mauritius ATC, the incident unfolded leading to panic. However, everyone heaved a sigh of relief when the aircraft came in contact with the ATC there at 4.58 pm, the AAI said.
Swaraj was on her way to South Africa before she made a brief stopover at Mauritius to take stock of preparations for the upcoming World Hindi Conference in Port Louis.
“Taking stock of the preparations for the Vishwa Hindi Sammelan in August 2018! EAM @SushmaSwaraj and Minister of Education of Mauritius, Leela Devi Dookun visited the Swami Vivekananda International Convention Centre (SVICC), the main venue of the World Hindi Conference” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.