NEW DELHI: An Air India flight bound for London from Ahmedabad on Friday lost contact with Air Traffic Control (ATC) while flying over Hungarian airspace, following which it was escorted by fighter jets.
German and Belgian fighter jets were scrambled to escort the Air India flight to Heathrow airport at London. There was a hijack scare after the flight lost radio contact. The aircraft was apparently flying blind for almost an hour.
An Air India spokesperson said the plane, with 231 passengers and 18 crew members on board, lost contact with ATC due to frequency fluctuation.
According to the spokesperson, the aircraft took off from the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai at 0700 hours and landed safely at London’s Heathrow Airport at 11.05 hours.
By the time the plane entered British skies, the fault was rectified and the Royal Air Force (RAF) of Britain was not required to escort the plane.
Air India has started a probe into the incident, the spokesperson added. A similar incident was reported on February 16 when a Jet Airways Mumbai-London flight suffered a communication failure while flying over German airspace which forced the German authorities to scramble fighter jets, fearing a hijack. The plane was carrying 330 passengers and 15 crew members.
The plane faced communication failure for a brief period while flying over Cologne in Germany. However, the communication was restored within minutes and the flight landed at its destination without any hitch.