It came as a rude shock for a pilot of an Air India plane with 56 passengers on board when an on-board navigational aid showed Srinagar airport in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK).
The Airbus A320 (IC-821) was on a flight from Delhi to Srinagar on Wednesday and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and his daughter Mehbooba besides separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani were among the passengers.
According to aviation sources,the pilot Captain Kapil Raina saw one coordinate of the Srinagar airport in the navigation aid at 20 degrees left of Banihal pass (between Jammu and Srinagar),an area which is somewhere in PoK.
Top Air India officials said the navigational aid of all the planes were updated with the new software provided by a Swedish company yesterday morning in which the coordinates of Srinagar airport were wrongly mentioned as noticed by the pilot while operating the flight in the afternoon.
The software company,which offered the new system to all airlines,had later sent an advisory to the engineering department of the Air India whereas it should have been sent to the operational wing,the officials said.
The alert pilot tackled the software glitch and ensured a safe landing of the aircraft at Srinagar airport using the manual landing system,they said.
The officials said the pilot detected an alarm in the computer-aided navigation system when the plane was making a descent while flying over Banihal pass.
The pilot quickly took the plane to a higher altitude and hovered around while informing the Air Traffic Control (ATC) at Srinagar and Jammu airports.
The plane could not gain much height because two planes of private airlines — Jetlite and Kingfisher — were flying above.
The pilot informed the ATC at Srinagar and landed the airplane using manual landing manoeuvres.
Besides Sayeed and his daughter,separatist leaders Sajjad Lone,Hurriyat leaders,who had come to New Delhi to attend the Pakistan Day on March 23,and MLAs Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami and Peerzada Mohammed Sayeed were among the passengers.
A full emergency drill was put in place at the airport and the plane landed with the radar coverage and visual facilities provided by Srinagar and Jammu airports,which are manned by the Indian Air Force,the officials said.