Page last updated at 12:19 GMT, Monday, 9 February 2009

Mumbai airport 'near miss' probed

Mumbai airport, file pic
Mumbai airport said it was an air traffic control issue

An investigation has been launched after a plane had to abort take-off at Mumbai airport to avoid a helicopter from the presidential fleet.

The pilot of the Air India passenger plane had to apply emergency brakes as he saw the helicopter landing.

Sources told Indian media that Flight IC 866 to Delhi and the helicopter, which was not carrying the president, both had permission to use the runway.

The Air India jet, with 150 passengers, later took off with new tyres.

An investigation has been launched by civil aviation authorities.

Officials at Mumbai International Airport said the matter was "purely an issue concerning the Mumbai Air Traffic Control, which had allowed both the landing and the take off".

A fleet of three helicopters, one carrying President Pratibha Patil, was arriving at Mumbai so she could later board a plane for an event in Gondia, in the east of Maharashtra state.

A presidential spokesperson said: "Everything is perfectly fine. The president is attending her normal functions."

A passenger on board the Air India flight told the Press Trust of India the plane was a "few seconds" from take-off when the helicopter appeared.

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