NEW DELHI: An Air India flight from Delhi to Moscow part of "Vande Bharat Mission" was asked to return midway on Saturday after its ground team realised that one of the pilots onboard the plane tested positive for COVID-19. The plane with registration number VT-EXR and having only the crew members was in the airspace of Uzbekistan when it was told to return.
The Airbus A320 plane had departed around 7.15 AM for Moscow to bring back a group of stranded Indians under the Vande Bharat evacuation mission and it was back in Delhi by 12.30 PM following orders from the authorities, according to a news agency quoting officials.
Authorities said that there was "lapse" on the part of officials responsible for the task and they did not have a look at the test results properly.
According to standard operating procedure, pilots and other crew members of any flight are required to undergo mandatory testing for coronavirus and are assigned duties if the laboratory results are negative.
The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has already begun an investigation into the case based on a preliminary report by Air India, the officials said.
All crew members including the pilot with coronavirus infection have been quarantined and the plane has already been sanitised.
Another plane is being sent to Moscow to bring back the stranded Indians, DGCA officials told the news agency.