An Air India plane flying from Delhi to Moscow returned midway after the pilot was found infected with Covid-19. Officials said there was an error in the pre-flight test report, which was read as negative initially. The health of the pilot worsened after the plane took off and the flight was called back.
The Air India plane took off from Delhi after 7 am today and returned to the national capital at 12:30 pm, sources said.
A senior Air India official was quoted as saying by Press Trust of India, “When the A320 plane, which did not have any passengers as it was heading to Moscow to bring back stranded Indians under Vande Bharat Mission, had reached Uzbekistan’s airspace, our team on ground realised that one of the pilots had tested Covid-19 positive.”
He further added, “The flight was immediately asked to return. It came back to Delhi at around 12.30 pm on Saturday.”
Sources in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA said “prima facie, this appears to be a lapse”
Air India conducts at least 200 Coronavirus tests every day in Delhi alone for all its crew ahead of all flights that they operate. The results of these tests are centrally processed by the airline.
The crew has been quarantined. Another plane would be sent to Moscow to bring back the stranded Indians, according to the officials. So far 45,000 Indians have been flown home from abroad under the centre’s “Vande Bharat Mission” that was launched on May 7 to bring back stranded Indians abroad. The Foreign Ministry said that one lakh more will be brought back by June 13.