Galleries more

Videos more

Dictionary more

Two Air Incidents involving Diego Garcia


In the past 10 days, Lalit has received emails informing us of two serious near-disasters involving aeroplanes on and around Mauritian Islands of Diego Garcia, occupied by the United Kingdom and the United States Armed Forces. At the same time, Air Traffic Control in Mumbai reports that the incident in their Flight Information Route was the third in 10 days, whereas they expect 6 a year. They blame US military craft from Diego Garcia.

The Mauritian Government is still as usual refusing, under UK-US pressure, to put a case before the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

The first incident was a "near miss" on 2 May involving an Air India commercial passenger flight AI-962 en route between Jeddah and Kerala, reported in Daily News and Analysis Sunday night. The military plane believed to be from Diego Garcia military base was only 500 feet lower than the commercial flight instead of the regulation 1,600 metre for vertical separation, and this proximity set off the commercial plan'es Traffic Collision Avoidence System (TCAS). The Air India pilot then had to take his plane up an additional 1,500 feet. "A TCAS resolution alert warns only when there is a high probability for collision," airport sources in Mumbai told the Daily News and Analysis. "This is a serious safety hazard," said a senior Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) officer in Mumbai. The incident was also reported in Le Mauricien of 8 May.

The second incident was a belly landing, that is with the wheels not down, of a B1 Bomber on the Diego Garcia runway, where it skidded along for 7,500 feet and caught fire, reported by Air Force Times. About one million dollars damage is estimated by the Air Force Times. The B-1B, according to the Air Force Times comes from the Texas Dyess Air Force Base. It had been on a mission to Guam. The Air Force are not saying what the incident was due to.

What concerns LALIT is what Mumbai Air Traffic Control sources report. Such incidents had been happening for the past two decades with an average of six a year, they said. "But there is a sudden rise in the number of such incidents. We have witnessed three near-misses in the last 10 days," an ATC official is reported to have said.