Pakistan Air Force fighters intercept Kabul bound Spice Jet plane, escort out of its airspace
New Delhi, Oct 17: A Kabul bound Spice Jet plane was reportedly intercepted by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jets mid-air in their air and escorted the passenger plane with 120 people on-board out of the country's airspace.
The incident occurred on September 23. The flight SG-21 was flanked by two F-16s and the PAF pilots instructed SpiceJet pilot to lower the altitude. The Spice Jet pilot then explained that it was a commercial flight. The F-16s then escorted the SG-21 out of Pakistan airspace till it entered Afghanistan, said reports.
The entire incident happened due to confusion over the "call-sign" assigned to the Boeing 737 aircraft.
According to sources, every flight has its code, like Spice Jet is known as 'SG'. It caused confusion and Pakistani Air Traffic Controller (ATC) misunderstood SpiceJet as 'IA' and misinterpreted it as the Indian Army or India Airforce.
"At the time when Pakistani F-16s were flying around the flight, all the passengers were asked to shut their windows and maintain silence," ANI quoted the SG-21 passengers as saying.
The Spice Jet flight, SG-21, which had taken off from New Delhi, had 120 passengers on board.
This happened during the brief period when Pakistan airspace was open for Indian planes. Islamabad had closed its air space to Indian flights after the Balakot strike. Then in July Pakistan had relaxed it for sometime before closing it again.