View Full Version : Mystery US plane forced to land in Mumbai

31 Jul 06,, 22:34
Mystery US plane forced to land in Mumbai 7/31/2006 11:43:07 PM
- By Our Special Correspondents

New Delhi/Mumbai, July 31: An "Atlas Air" aircraft flying in from the Kenyan capital Nairobi was ordered by the Indian Air Force to land at Mumbaiís Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport after it aroused suspicion in the minds of Indian authorities. The aircraft landed at Mumbai airport at 3 am on Monday in mysterious circumstances.

According to the defence ministry, the aircraft initially transmitted a message to Mumbai airport that it was a United States Air Force Boeing 747 flying from Nairobi to Hong Kong and that it wished to enter Indian airspace. The IAF was soon intimated of this request by the Mumbai Movement Liaison Unit at Mumbai airport. The IAF, however, did not accord permission.

But the aircraft soon reportedly transmitted a message that it was, in fact, a civil-registered aircraft and again repeated its request. Following this, the IAFís duty officer (South-Western Air Command) called Mumbai airport at about 1 am informing the airport authorities that he was refusing clearance to this aircraft due to the suspicious change in aircraft particulars from military to civil. At about 2 am, the IAF ordered the aircraft to land at Mumbai to verify its antecedents. The aircraft then landed shortly after 3 am.

An IAF press statement said: "The IAF was called last night at about 10.05 pm to confirm clearance for a US Air Force Boeing 747 aircraft flying from Nairobi to Hong Kong. Later, at 11 pm, Mumbai Movement Liaison Centre called to inform that the aircraft was now coming as a civil registered aircraft operated by Atlas Air, and had obtained DGCA clearance, and asked for operation room advice."

Authorities at Mumbai airport soon confirmed that it was indeed a civil registered aircraft. The pilot of the aircraft is reported to have explained that there was a "mix-up" on the part of the Nairobi air traffic control (ATC) in forwarding the aircraft particulars.

Mumbai airport sources said the aircraft was empty and was not carrying any cargo or passengers. According to the sources, there were four people on board the aircraft ó the pilot, co-pilot and two crew members. However, there was no official confirmation of this, either by the IAF or Mumbai airport authorities.

Throughout Monday, personnel belonging to the IAF, Intelligence Bureau and Directorate General of Civil Aviation are believed to have questioned the pilot on the suspicious nature of the flight. According to defence ministry officials, Atlas Air is also known to ferry cargo for the US Army, and this added to the suspicions of the authorities. But the pilot is believed to have told the Indian authorities that the plane code and flight path had not been properly transmitted due to the error of the Nairobi ATC authorities.

Mumbai airport sources confirmed that the aircraft had not taken off from Mumbai till late on Monday evening. Both IAF and civil aviation ministry officials in New Delhi were tight-lipped about the developments. However, the defence ministry said on a statement issued on Monday evening that the aircraft was still in Mumbai and "is yet to file its further flight plan".


hmm... why do I feel as if there is something fishy going on??? As soon as the plane lands, the IAF and the Civil aviation ministry get tight-lipped??? The airplane is "yet to file its further flight plan"... I won't be surprised if that aircraft has long since left Mumbai airport...

31 Jul 06,, 23:02

there aren't that many 747's in US gov't service, so it is rather easy to figure out whether or not the aircraft is what it says. It's like something like this:

US gov't 747's:

VC-25 (AirForce One) (2 of them)
Airborne Command Post, the E-4's
NASA's shuttle 747
The Airborne Laser platform

I don't know the exact numbers off the top of my head, but I suspect you would need less than two hands to count them with.
("Smitty, I want you to catch E-4!"--Looking Glass General "Alice", (wtte), "By Dawn's Early Light")

31 Jul 06,, 23:42
The USAF has been using 747's for transport and cargo hauling for decades. There was a whole fleet of them operating in ODS.

There are about 20 airframes in the CRAF fleet (civilian reserve air fleet) that can be configured for passengers or cargo with 48 hours notice.

If they need more, they lease them on short-term leases from commercial leasing companies. Hence Atlas Air- they are a large commercial leasing company that specializes in cargo configured 747's and crew.

Nothing mysterious here, other than why the Indian Gov't chose to detain an empty airplane and crew who were just looking for transit permission.

31 Jul 06,, 23:55
Nothing mysterious here, other than why the Indian Gov't chose to detain an empty airplane and crew who were just looking for transit permission.

actually, the plane gave out itself as a USAF aircraft and later on changed to Civil... thats what caused the suspician... and even after the plane landed, the plane had no further flight plan... so where was it heading anyways??? but even if it was a USAF aircraft, I don't think the aviation ministry would release any information on it, especially if the aircraft is/was on a sensitive mission... like I said, for all we know, the aircraft is probably not even in Mumbai right now as the aviation ministry claims... because the whole issue makes no sense.. so maybe the aircraft is already up in the air heading to its original destination to carry out whatever task it was doing???

01 Aug 06,, 00:04
It is a leased aircraft. Atlas provides the crews, insurance, maintenance, etc. as a package. There is nothing unusual about a civil registered aircraft leased to the USAF. As I said, this has been going on for decades. Atlas alone has 42 cargo 747's in this service.

The article already stated they were in route to Hong Kong. So their flight plan was already filed in Nairobi when they departed. That's the way it works.

IOW, the only reason they have to file a new flight plan, is because they were forced to land in India.

01 Aug 06,, 01:06
ok, but again, I don't see anything wrong in a suspicious aircraft being forced to land... the world has learnt a lot post 9/11...

01 Aug 06,, 04:59
It seems to be an apparent mix up.

01 Aug 06,, 05:13
Highsea, google "Purulia arms drop" to see why India is wary of aircraft with unclear destinations...then theres the 9/11 thingie...