En route to Mauritius, Sushma Swaraj's plane went incommunicado for 14 minutes

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Photograph:( PTI )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jun 03, 2018, 05.16 PM (IST)

There was a moment of absolute scare for the Mauritius air traffic control and external minister Sushma Swaraj's aircraft crew after her VVIP aircraft "Meghdoot" flying from Trivandrum to Mauritius, on her way to South Africa, went incommunicado for about 14 minutes on Saturday, reports said. However, authorities insist that it would not comprise a 'mid air scare'.

The plane, Embraer ERJ135 named “Meghdoot”, had taken off from Trivandrum at 4 pm and lost contact at around 4.44 pm.

After the Mauritius authorities could not establish connection with flight IFC-31, it declared ‘INCERFA’ alarm at 4.44 pm which is used at a time when it is not known whether the aircraft and its occupants are safe or not. Mauritius also contacted the Chennai air traffic control, which was the last flight information region to be in touch with ‘Meghdoot’.

After a panic of 12-14 minutes, the pilots of the plane contacted Mauritius ATC at 4.58 pm.

As per reports, an official informed that communication over oceanic area is often problematic due to erratic VHF signals. 

The 14-minute long uncertainty phase (INCERFA) is first of the three emergency phases under International Civil Aviation Organisation’s Chicago Convention. 

The second is “alert phase” (ALERFA) in which apprehension exists as to the safety of an aircraft and its occupants. The third is “distress phase” (DETRESFA) wherein there is a reasonable certainty that an aircraft and its occupants are threatened by grave and imminent danger and require immediate assistance.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj left on a five-day visit to South Africa on Saturday where she will meet top leadership of the country and attend meetings of BRICS and IBSA — the two major groups where India has been playing a major role. 

She will also attend events marking the 125th anniversary of the historic incident where a young Mahatma Gandhi was thrown out of a train compartment in Pietermaritzburg railway station, the Ministry of External Affairs said.