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CHANDIGARH: Last Sunday, the Air India Delhi-Kabul flight AI243-was met with radio silence on the approach to the last scheduled commercial services at Kabul airport before the city fell into the hands of the Taliban. Driven by Captain Aditya Chopra and Ashutosh Ahlawat, the Airbus A320 with 40 passengers was circling the besieged city while waiting for the aircraft to land from Traffic Control (ATC). An Emirates Boeing 7 from Dubai was at an altitude of 2,000,000 feet near Kabul at the same time. It returned to the UAE without landing in Kabul.
Sources said the crew on board were unaware of what had happened on the ground. “The ATC stopped responding when the plane was over Kabul. It was not more than an hour ago that the crew was allowed to land, ”the source said.
“Perhaps the ATC in Kabul did not have air traffic controllers. The pilots had no idea what to do and where to go. Since the direction of Kabul was busy, they had to be alert for other aircraft in the ATC radio silence. AI 243 finally reached 1.30pm (Local Kabul time) Landing in Kabul after 2 hours 1 minute, an event-free flight takes less than an hour.
The Indian Commercial Pilots Association, the Union of Pilots of the former Indian Airlines, praised the crew operating AI 243/244 last Sunday. “We salute the dedication of our Air India AI 243 (Capt. Aditya Chopra and Ashutosh Ahlawat) who went beyond the bounds of responsibility amid tensions and unrest to bring our citizens safely back to the country from Kabul. Joy Hind, ”it tweeted.
The 162-seat A320 was fully booked as AI 244 on the return flight to Delhi. But only 129 passengers were able to reach the airport. This was probably the last scheduled flight from Kabul. AI was the only Indian carrier scheduled to fly to Kabul. The next day, the non-defense aircraft was intercepted from Afghan airspace.

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