Mumbai, Nov 13: The Ambanis must have been in for a shock when their flight cried "May Day" during an emergency drill.
The aircraft repeatedly emitted "May Day" signal to Mumbai air traffic control (ATC) tower. The pilots of the "Delhi-Lahore-Muscat" flight were screaming, "Karachi, Muscat we are going to ditch". Their engine was on fire and the plane was going to crash!
Panic was "in the air" with ATC controllers tried contacting their Karachi, Muscat and Delhi counterparts to find out the issue.
Upon contact, Karachi and Muscat told Mumbai that they were neither in contact with any such flight number, nor had any aircraft reported an engine fire or loss of controls leading to May Day calls.
ATC used the signal's "direction finder" and checked the aircraft parked in the direction of private jet hangars as the signal was coming from ground.
"The ground staff found that the signal was coming from Ambani's ACJ, a super luxury Airbus A-319, safely parked in a hangar and not going anywhere. Two pilots were in the cockpit," said an official.
"The directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) was to conduct an evacuation exercise of the Ambani ACJ on Tuesday to see if the crew can safely lead its occupants out in the required time in case of an emergency. Reliance Commercial Developers Pvt Ltd (RCDL), which operates this plane, was practising for the upcoming safety drill. The pilots have told us that they switched on the emergency May Day switch inadvertently and broadcast their practise message to us, which they are not supposed to do during drills," said an official.
Based on the pilots' testimony, the ATC has now submitted its report to the DGCA. "What the pilots did in preparation of an upcoming drill was wrong. We have submitted our report to the regulator. Now it is up to them to take further action," said the official.
A senior DGCA official said that RCDL had "failed the drill". Mukesh had gifted the about Rs 250-crore aircraft to Nita on her birthday in November 2007.