IAF backs pilot who refuses to fly Rahul

Last Updated: Wed, Sep 12, 2012 09:20 hrs

Guwahati/New Delhi: A pilot of Indian Air Force on Tuesday evening refused to fly Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in Assam from Kokrajhar to Guwahati owing to bad weather, a decision that was later defended strongly by the IAF in a media statement.

The IAF on Wednesday issued a statement saying based "on the prevailing weather and approaching sunset, the pilot taking the safety of the VIP as being paramount, arrived at the decision that it was unsafe to undertake the flight."

"The Pilot's decision was taken using his professional judgment in the interest of safety of aircraft and its occupants. IAF strongly stands by the decision of the pilot, since Flight Safety and the Safety of the VIPs on board are considered paramount," said IAF.

IAF said the helicopter was to ferry Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Rahul Gandhi to Dubri, Chirang and Kokrajhar. "The last leg was planned from Kokrajhar to Guwahati around 1700 h. The weather at Guwahati was reported as continuous rain, lightning and thundershowers, with two Cumulo-Nimbus (CB) cells overhead and in the vicinity of the airfield.

"The Civil Met Deptt at Guwahati had also issued a weather warning at 1700 h for rain and thundershowers with winds gusting to 20 kts (36 kmph). The weather at diversionary airfield Hasimara and enroute from Kokrahar to Guwahati was also overcast with low clouds and wide spread rain patches," it said.

IAF said in the morning of Wednesday that the helicopter has still not been able to return to Guwahati due to continuing bad weather.

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