Drones/unidentified unmanned aerial vehicles were found in the airspace, prompting an order to cease aircraft operations at Bir Tikendrajit International Airport in Imphal. According to sources, the aerial vehicles have been spotted in the area since Sunday around 2:30 pm. After more than three hours, services returned to normal.
Some arriving flights redirected to other locations after turning back from Imphal airspace, while some flights to and from Imphal were canceled, according to sources.
Director of Imphal International Airport Chipemmi Keishing released a statement regarding the suspension of flight operations, stating: “Two flights have been diverted and three outgoing planes have been delayed due to the discovery of an unidentified flying object within Imphal controlled Airspace. Once a competent authority has granted clearance, flight operations can begin.
An official of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) said they received a message from the CISF at 2.30 pm, informing them that a UFO (unidentified flying object) was found near the airport.
“The UFO was visible with bare eyes moving westwards of the airfield till 4 pm,” the official said.
The Indian Air Force Eastern Command at Shillong was informed of the development, the official said.
The arrival of an IndiGo flight from Kolkata to Imphal was instructed to hold overhead till clearance was taken from security agencies, CISF and SP Imphal West. Three aircraft were awaiting instructions and waited for over three hours while two inbound flights were diverted to Kolkatta after the air traffic controllers reported an unidentified flying object near the runway.
An IndiGo flight No. 6E5118 (from Delhi to Imphal) was diverted to Kolkata, and another IndiGo flight No. 6E275 (from Kolkata to Imphal) was diverted to Guwahati. Meanwhile, after being delayed for over three hours, Air India flight No. AI 890 was allowed to take off from Imphal for Guwahati.
According to the technical staff at the airport and air traffic control, members saw the drones around 2:30 pm, following which, the three flights were asked to halt take off. As a result of the drone sightings and subsequent cancellation and delay, some passengers said they’ve rescheduled their tickets.
Taking to X, formerly Twitter, Eastern Air Command of the Air Force said, “IAF activated its Air Defence response mechanism based on visual inputs from Imphal airport. The small object was not seen thereafter.”