PAF intercepted Indian passenger plane assigned military code: report

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NEW DELHI: Pakistan Air Force intercepted an Indian passenger aircraft on its journey to Kabul last month after a goof-up by the country’s aviation regulator, which assigned it an electronic code of a military aircraft, a media report said.

The incident took place on September 23, The Hindu reported.

The SpiceJet flight with 120 passengers onboard was was reportedly visible to Pakistan radars as an Indian Air Force aircraft. Two F-16s intercepted the plane to verify its identity, an official of the Ministry of Civil Aviation was quoted by The Hindu as saying.

A mode-S transponder is an electronic address which is unique to a country and each plane.

The SpiceJet pilots were then told to “hold the plane” in the sky as the F-16s continued to flank it on both sides. After confirming that it was a harmless, civilian plane on a scheduled flight from New Delhi to Kabul, Pakistan Air Force jets escorted it to the Afghanistan border to allow it to complete its journey.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation suspended a DGCA official following the incident.

The entire process of assigning Mode-S transponders to aircraft, which was a manual one, has now been computerised to avoid human errors, according to the report.

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