The two pilots of a helicopter, which flew Rahul Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh on Monday, were on Wednesday given a virtual clean chit by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, during a preliminary probe into the alleged violation of air safety rules that fuelled a controversy involving the Congress leader.
The pilots of the state-run Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited, who appeared before the DGCA's Air Safety Wing in New Delhi, were cleared after the probe panel found that the helicopter had landed at 5.25 pm. "The visibility was two km and light conditions were satisfactory on Monday," official sources said.
The sources also maintained that the two pilots had 'no discussion' with any passenger (including Gandhi) on board or anyone on the ground while landing at Sitapur. They said a final verdict on the matter would come only at the conclusion of the enquiry and claimed that the pilots have not been de-rostered.
Earlier, reports had said that the two pilots had been taken off duty to enable them to appear before the DGCA. Gandhi had on Tuesday sought to stave off a controversy, saying he had not forced the pilots to land the helicopter in poor visibility conditions.
"I am a pilot and I am absolutely aware of the dangers of flying in low visibility conditions. I will be the last person to do it," he had said in Lucknow.
However, Sitapur District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar had claimed that the chopper had landed after sunset in poor visibility, even as the Uttar Pradesh government shot off a letter to the Centre over alleged violation of security norms during Gandhi's visit to the state.