Aviation regulator DGCA has initiated a probe into the incident of the plane carrying Congress President Rahul Gandhi suffering engine trouble, a senior official said. The plane on way to Patna was forced to return to Delhi on Friday after experiencing "engine trouble". Gandhi tweeted a video of the aircraft and apologised for the delay due to the problem in the plane. "Engine trouble on our flight to Patna today! We’ve been forced to return to Delhi. Today’s meetings in Samastipur (Bihar), Balasore (Orissa) & Sangamner (Maharashta) will run late. Apologies for the inconvenience."
Engine trouble on our flight to Patna today! We’ve been forced to return to Delhi. Today’s meetings in Samastipur (Bihar), Balasore (Orissa) & Sangamner (Maharashta) will run late. Apologies for the inconvenience. pic.twitter.com/jfLLjYAgcO— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 26, 2019
The plane he was travelling in was a two-pilot plus eight seater King Air B2000 manufactured by U.S. based Hawker Beechcraft. Speaking to IANS, Mumbai-based aviation expert Pradeep Thampy said that the small fixed wing aircraft, single-engined aircraft like Cessna are not permitted for poll-related purposes due to various reasons, but twin and multiple engine turbo-props are in great demand.
"The pilot plus five King Air C90 and the two-pilot plus eight King Air B200 are in great demand. There are an estimated two dozen in India but not available now. The bookings are full till the third week of May," Thampy told IANS.
This is not the first time a plane carrying Rahul Gandhi has faced a problem as last year Rahul Gandhi's plane from Delhi to Hubli in Karnataka “malfunctioned” and several “unexplained technical errors” happened during the course of the two-hour morning flight.
Congress filed a police complaint after the plane made a rough landing, which it said endangered the life of passengers. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued a statement saying that the "snag" that hit Rahul Gandhi's flight was "not uncommon" but the authorities will probe the incident.
"Li Gear Aviation Falcon 2000 aircraft VT-AVH was involved in an incident while operating flight from Delhi to Hubli. The operator reported the incident to DGCA. As per the operator report, it was a snag in the autopilot mode and the pilot shifted to manual mode and landed the aircraft safely. Autopilot failure incidents are not uncommon. For any VIP flight, DGCA investigates thoroughly. DGCA has set up a two-member committee to investigate into the cause of the incident. A report is likely in 2-3 weeks," said the statement.
Raising the issue of a "possible and intentional tampering" with the aircraft, the complaint says that the plane shuddered violently, tilted to one side, dipped in altitude steeply and made cranking noises throughout. It further says that the autopilot system of the aircraft was not functioning.