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Top BJP leaders get mid- air scare.

ACHARTERED plane carrying senior BJP leaders to a rally in Bangalore made an emergency landing nine minutes after taking off from the Delhi airport on Monday morning.

BJP president Rajnath Singh and senior leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley were travelling in the aircraft. According to Air Traffic Control ( ATC) officials, the plane took off at 10 am but had to return to the IGIA after a few minutes as it developed problems in its autopilot system.

They added that all the passengers onboard the aircraft were safe and were flown to Bangalore after the authorities made alternate arrangements.

The Bombardier Challenger in which the BJP leaders were flying is owned by a Mumbai- based company called Eon Aviation. It is a nine- seater plane with the call sign VT- DBG, said sources at the airport.

The pilot detected a problem in the aircraft's autopilot system after the plane took off and immediately sought the permission of ATC to land under emergency conditions, the sources added.

ATC sources said the pilot took the correct action of landing the aircraft after the problem was detected.

BJP general secretary Dharmendra Pradhan and joint general secretary ( organisation) V. Satish were also onboard the aircraft when the incident took place.

Q & A

What does an autopilot do?

It flies the aircraft without any assistance from the human pilot. It moves the aircraft's control surfaces like ailerons, elevators and rudder to maintain flight path, altitude and heading without the pilot touching the controls. It's a great tool in the cockpit as it frees the pilot for other cockpit duties and from physical flying during long flights

Could the stricken aircraft continued with its flight to Bangalore without a functioning autopilot?

Yes. The pilot would have then manually flown the aircraft all the way to Bangalore.

But hand- flying a plane on long flights can be physically exhausting

Why then did the pilots not continue with the flight?

Autopilot flying is more precise than human flying. Aircraft nowadays fly at a vertical separation of only 1,000ft, made possible because of the precise flying by autopilots. A human pilot may not maintain this separation while hand- flying an aircraft. So, the pilots may have felt they cannot maintain the required vertical separation from other aircraft without an autopilot. Plus, an autopilot, because it is so precise, provides a level of safety during flights into poor weather conditions or flights into challenging or mountainous areas

Did they take the right decision?

All aircraft come with a Minimum Equipment List ( MEL), which lists the equipment that have to be in perfect working order for an aircraft to operate.

A working autopilot is usually a part of the MEL. Probably this is why the pilots decided to return to Delhi

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Apr 9, 2013
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