New Delhi, Jun 3: External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s VVIP aircraft ‘Meghdoot’, from Trivandrum to Mauritius, went incommunicado for 12-14 minutes on Saturday. The Mauritian air traffic control could not establish contact with the crew of Embraer 135 Legacy flying Swaraj for some time after the plane entered the island nation’s airspace, a report claimed. Also Read - 16 Countries Provide Visa-Free Entry to Indian Passport Holders: Govt Tells Rajya Sabha
After the Mauritius authorities could not establish connection with flight IFC-31, it declared ‘INCERFA’ alarm at 4.44 pm which is used at a time when it is not known whether the aircraft and its occupants are safe or not. Mauritius also contacted the Chennai air traffic control, which was the last flight information region to be in touch with ‘Meghdoot’. Also Read - Mauritius Declares Environmental Emergency After Massive Oil Spill: All That We Know So Far
The plane had taken off from Trivandrum at 4 pm. After a panic of 12-14 minutes, the pilots of the Embraer ERJ135 named ‘Meghdoot’ contacted Mauritius ATC at 4.58 pm. Also Read - Remembering Sushma Swaraj: PM Modi Pays Tribute to Forgone Leader Who Was 'India's Voice at World Stage'
Notably, the Embraer does not have a long range and had to take three refuelling or technical stops — Delhi-Trivandrum-Mauritius-South Africa.
As quoted by a media report, a senior ATC official claimed that communication over oceanic area is often problematic due to erratic VHF communication.
The 14-minute long uncertainty phase (INCERFA) is first of the three emergency phases under International Civil Aviation Organisation’s Chicago Convention. The second is “alert phase” (ALERFA) and the third is “distress phase” (DETRESFA).
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj left on a five-day visit to South Africa on Saturday where she will meet top leadership of the country and attend meetings of BRICS and IBSA — the two major groups where India has been playing a major role. She will also attend events marking the 125th anniversary of the historic incident where a young Mahatma Gandhi was thrown out of a train compartment in Pietermaritzburg railway station, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
During her visit to the African nation, Swaraj will participate in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Foreign Ministers’ meeting on June 4 which is expected to lay the foundation for the annual summit of the group in Johannesburg next month. She will also chair a meeting of Foreign Ministers of IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa), another bloc working to deepen coordination among the three countries on major global issues.
On June 6, Swaraj will visit the Phoenix settlement where Mahatma Gandhi had developed his philosophy of non-violence.
Ministry of External affairs has said the two-day commemoration activities will also include release of joint commemorative stamps on Oliver Tambo, who was a South African anti-apartheid activist and revolutionary leader and Mr Deen Dayal Upadhayaa and a Youth Summit where 20 from African youth and five from India will speak on the relevance of Mahatma Gandhi’s message of peace to today’s generation.