Media reports reveal that the Pakistan Air Force F-16 fighter jets scrambled to pursue and intercept an Indian plane, which ventured in Pakistan airspace after a mistake by DGCA and upon confirmation was escorted out of Pakistani airspace. The incident occurred on September 23.
— The Hindu (@the_hindu) October 18, 2019
Sources within the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) revealed today that the Indian aircraft in question was on its way to Kabul from New Delhi. It was intercepted by the fighter jets of the Pakistan Air Force, which then escorted the airliner out of Pakistan’s airspace on September 23.
Indian Aircraft Intercepted
Officials from the DGCA divulged that there was confusion over the “call-sign” allocated to the Boeing 737 aircraft as it entered the Pakistani airspace, which prompted the PAF to scramble the F-16 fighter jets and intercept the aircraft.
The PAF fighter jets asked the aircraft to reduce its altitude, and the news agency ANI identified that the jets were F-16s. The pilots of the SpiceJet airliner communicated with the PAF fighter pilots and identified the airliner as a commercial plane.
Upon confirmation, the Indian SpiceJet was allowed to continue its journey to Kabul and was escorted out of the Pakistani airspace until the plane entered the Afghan airspace.
Given the sensitivity of the matter, the DGCA officials declined to provide further information to the media.
Indian media reports are ripe with speculations about the risks posed to the lives of the 120 passengers traveling aboard the airliner as the PAF F-16s instructed the pilots to “hold the plane” in the sky until its commercial status is verified by the aviation authorities.
The safety of 120 passengers onboard were put in jeopardy on September 23 as the plane was visible to #Pakistan radars as an #IAF aircraft after a goof-up by the Indian aviation regulator, which assigned it an electronic code of a military plane.https://t.co/E9Cx2A7pN8?
— The Hindu (@the_hindu) October 17, 2019
This incident occurred seven months after the Indian Air Force fighter jets ventured into Pakistani airspace with the intent to carry out destruction in Balakot. The botched Balakot strike remains infamous for its success in martyring two Pakistani trees, while New Delhi claims the destruction of alleged Jaish-e-Mohammad “terror camps”.
The second attempt of the Indian Air Force at entering the Pakistani airspace, on 27th February, did not end well. A PAF fighter jet shot down IAF’s MIG-21 and captured Indian fighter pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who was returned shortly after, as a gesture of peace.
The Pakistan Air Force also retaliated by targeting Indian military installations alongside the border, causing massive destruction for the enemy.
1. IAF crossed LoC at night, failed to hit any target, dropped payload on trees (verified by international sources), and went away
2. PAF crossed LoC in daylight, hit Indian brigade HQ, battalion HQ, arms depot, shot down MiG-21 and Su-30MKI, came back unscratched 1/2
— YouSaf SaLeem (@itsyousafsaleem) May 18, 2019
It is important to note that military aircrafts and those carrying VIPs must provide their flight path, and obtain prior permission for the flight when using the airspace of another country. Commercial airlines are directed to provide their six-month schedule to the aviation regulator.
Indian media reports reveal that the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation has suspended a DGCA official, and the process of allocating Mode-S transponders to aircraft has been computerized to avoid manual errors.