No foul play in Rahul flight snag: official

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NEW DELHI, MAY 04,
A discreet enquiry conducted by intelligence agencies has found “no foul play” or “criminal conspiracy” into the free fall and shuddering experienced by a chartered plane carrying Congress president Rahul Gandhi from New Delhi to Hubbali in Karnataka on April 26, a top government official said.
The official said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was conducting a separate enquiry whether the “instruments” in the aircraft were in a sound condition. The official told The Hindu that the pilot told investigators that as the autopilot mechanism developed a snag, he was asked by the Air Traffic Control (ATC) to descend leading to the free fall and sudden shuddering.
“We have conducted an independent investigation. The pilot and the concerned ATC officials were questioned. Based on what they told us and other discreet enquiries done by us there doesn’t seem to be any foul play,” said the official.
As reported by The Hindu, a preliminary investigation by the DGCA had revealed an erratic hydraulic system associated with the autopilot mechanism. “We are awaiting reports on the instruments part. It is for the DGCA to find out if there was any problem with the aircraft,” said the official.
The aircraft, a Falcon 2000 owned by Religare Aviation and chartered by the Congress through a New Delhi-based service, is said to have become unstable in flight as the pilots struggled to reconnect the autopilot a few times before deciding to land manually. The aircraft landed without incident on its third attempt.
The Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary Shakir Sanadi filed a police complaint alleging that the aircraft was tilting and the pilot had to make three attempts to land. He also said in his complaint that the autopilot facility was not functioning, putting the life of the VIP in the plane in danger.
A senior DGCA official refused to comment whether the Special Protection Group (SPG), that provides security cover to Mr. Gandhi, has written to the aviation regulator asking them to categorically answer if the snag was technical or otherwise.
Mr. Gandhi spoke at a party rally in Delhi on Sunday saying he had thought it was all over as his aircraft dipped 8,000 feet.

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