After an empty Air India plane flying from Delhi to Moscow had to return when the pilot was found infected with coronavirus midair, regulator Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has decided to order an investigation into a “lapse”. The state-run carrier’s ground team had realised the pilot was a patient of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) only after the Airbus A320NEO had taken off.
Sources in the DGCA said “prima facie, this appears to be a lapse” as the pilot was not supposed to be on the plane if he was a COVID patient.
Air India conducts at least 200 coronavirus tests a day in Delhi alone for all its crew ahead of all flights that they operate. It processes the results of these tests centrally.
This Air India plane had taken off from Delhi after 7 AM today. It returned to the national capital at 12:30 PM, sources said.
The authority has quarantined the crew. It is sending another plane to Moscow to bring back Indians, officials said.
The airline tests pilots for coronavirus before they allowing them to fly.
So far 45,000 Indians have been flown home from abroad under the centre’s “Vande Bharat Mission” that was launched on 7 May to repatriate stranded Indians amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. It said one lakh more will be flown home till 13 June.