Drone Flies Dangerously Close to 2 IndiGo Flights at Bangalore Airport, Probe Ordered

Radhika Bansal

30 Sep 2023

In a mid-air crisis, a drone operated by unidentified persons came to a very close range of two of the IndiGo flights soon after their take off from Bengaluru's Kempegowda International Airport on Tuesday, September 26. The pilots were, however, quick enough to alert the Air Traffic Control (ATC) about the drone’s presence in the restricted airspace.

According to The Times of India report, sources from Kempegowda Airport said that the incident took place in the afternoon when the first IndiGo flight took off from the airport. The pilots spotted a mid-sized drone flying suspiciously close to the aircraft. Following the complaints, the authorities have launched an investigation to identify the operator of the drone flying in the restricted area risking the aircraft's safety.

Soon after, another IndiGo plane that took off from the airport also reported about a drone flying dangerously close to the aircraft. The ATC officials then reported the matter to the Air Operations Control Centre for further investigation.

“A probe is underway by the Air Operations Control Centre into the presence of the drone. CCTV footage is being examined to find out what type of device it was, from which direction it was flown and if it had come extremely close to the planes,” a source told the Times of India.

Reportedly, the matter has also been raised with the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) team in charge of airport security while the airport police are investigating to track down the operator of the drone.

Drone Rules in India

As per the drone rules laid out by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), drones are restricted from being flown in areas specified as “No Fly Zones,” which includes areas nearby to airports, International borders, State Secretariat Complexes in state capitals and military installations. 

The Indian airspace for drones is divided into three zones: Green, Yellow, and Red. As can be inferred from the title, operations under the green zone do not require permission from the DGCA while those in yellow and red zones are strictly controlled.

Flying a drone in strategic and sensitive locations, including near airports, defence airports, border areas, military facilities, and areas earmarked as strategic locations by the Ministry of Home Affairs can result in penalties, including a fine of up to INR 1,00,000 (over USD 1200). 


Green Zone: Green zone is the airspace from the ground up to a vertical distance of 400 ft (120 meters). You can fly your drone in a green zone without the need for permission from the DGCA through Digital Sky.

Yellow Zone: A yellow zone is a controlled airspace. To fly in the yellow zone you would require permission from the air traffic control authority. A yellow zone is applicable for a vertical distance of 200 ft for up to 12 km from the perimeter of an operational airport. The provisions of a yellow zone are also applied above 400 ft.

Red Zone: The Red zone is the restricted airspace where drone operations are not permitted unless ‘exceptional circumstances’ follow. Commercial or leisure drone operations in red zones are generally prohibited.

(With Inputs from The Times of India)

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United Airlines Pilots Secure Lucrative Contract Amidst Ongoing Pilot Shortages

Abhishek Nayar

30 Sep 2023

In a significant development for the airline industry, United Airlines' pilots have successfully negotiated a new four-year contract that promises substantial pay increases and a host of additional benefits.

The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), which represents United's pilots, announced this historic agreement on Friday, September 29, 2023. The contract, which received overwhelming support from the pilot community, comes at a time when the aviation industry is grappling with a persistent shortage of pilots.

A Landmark Agreement

ALPA reported that an impressive 82% of United Airlines' pilots voted in favor of the comprehensive working agreement, with an astonishing 97% of eligible pilots participating in the ballot. The new contract is set to inject more than $10 billion into the previous agreement, signifying a significant milestone in pilot compensation and working conditions.

Pay Raise and Beyond

One of the most noteworthy aspects of the new contract is the remarkable pay raise it offers. United Airlines' pilots will experience a wage increase ranging from 34.5% to 40.2% over the four-year period. This boost in income is expected to significantly improve the financial well-being of the airline's 16,000 pilots.

However, the agreement goes beyond just salary adjustments. It also places a strong emphasis on enhancing pilots' overall quality of life. Improved work-life balance, increased sick leave allowances, more favorable work rules, and expanded vacation benefits are among the perks that will contribute to a healthier work environment for United's pilots.

In addition to these immediate benefits, the contract outlines an increase in retirement benefits, ensuring that pilots can plan for a secure future. This comprehensive package demonstrates United Airlines' commitment to its pilots and acknowledges their pivotal role in the company's success.

The Ongoing Pilot Shortage

The backdrop to this milestone agreement is the persisting pilot shortage in the United States. This shortage is a result of several factors, including pilots leaving the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to analysts at Jefferies, the United States currently faces a shortfall of approximately 10,000 pilots.

The ongoing pilot shortage has given pilots unprecedented bargaining power. As the travel industry rebounds from the pandemic, airlines are racing to recruit and retain experienced aviators. This heightened demand for pilots has forced airlines to improve their terms and conditions to attract and retain talent.

Comparative Insights

United Airlines is not the only carrier that has recently enhanced its pilot compensation and benefits. Earlier this year, Delta Air Lines' pilots ratified a new contract that promises over $7 billion in cumulative increases in wages and benefits over four years. These developments underscore the industry-wide recognition of the vital role pilots play and the need to invest in their well-being and job satisfaction.


The new contract secured by United Airlines' pilots represents a landmark achievement, not only for the airline but also for the aviation industry as a whole. It reflects a growing awareness of the ongoing pilot shortage and the need to offer competitive compensation and improved working conditions to attract and retain experienced pilots. As the travel industry continues to recover, pilot negotiations like these may become more commonplace, as airlines seek to ensure the safety and success of their operations by prioritizing their most valuable asset—their pilots.

With Inputs from Reuters

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Air Canada Pilots Protest for Fair Wages Amidst North American Aviation Labor Struggles

Abhishek Nayar

30 Sep 2023

On Friday, September 29, 2023, Air Canada pilots staged a protest at Pearson Airport in Toronto, shedding light on the ongoing negotiations for a new contract that covers 4,500 pilots at Canada's largest carrier. The primary demands of Canadian pilots include higher salaries and improved scheduling, echoing the successes achieved by their American counterparts at airlines like United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines, who secured significant gains in recent labor agreements.

This protest is emblematic of the broader challenges faced by North American airlines in recruiting and retaining trained pilots and crew members during a period of surging international travel demand following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pilots Seek Fair Compensation

One of the central issues driving the protest is the Canadian pilots' desire for increased compensation. For nearly a decade, Air Canada pilots have received annual salary increases of just 2%, leading to wage stagnation in the face of rising inflation rates. As of March 2023, Canada's inflation rate stood at 4.3%, a 19-month high, making the demands for higher wages and improved benefits more urgent.

Inspired by American Successes

Canadian pilots are taking inspiration from their American counterparts who have successfully negotiated improved labor agreements in recent months. United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines, among others, have managed to secure record gains for their pilots, offering higher wages, better working conditions, and more favorable scheduling arrangements. These developments have raised the expectations of Canadian pilots who now seek similar concessions.

Labor Shortages in North American Aviation

The challenges faced by Canadian pilots are emblematic of a broader issue affecting North American aviation: a severe shortage of trained pilots and crew members. The COVID-19 pandemic brought the industry to a standstill, leading to a wave of layoffs and early retirements among airline staff. As international travel demand has surged in the wake of pandemic-related restrictions easing, airlines have found it difficult to fully capitalize on this opportunity due to a lack of qualified personnel.

Ongoing Negotiations with Air Canada

The protest at Pearson Airport was a public demonstration of the Canadian Air Line Pilots Association's (ALPA) stance in negotiations with Air Canada. Charlene Hudy, Chair of the governing body for the airline's pilot’s union, indicated that discussions are expected to persist throughout the entire month of October. Both parties are actively engaged in the bargaining process, seeking a resolution that addresses the pilots' concerns while ensuring the airline's long-term stability.


The Air Canada pilots' protest at Pearson Airport in Toronto serves as a stark reminder of the challenges faced by aviation workers in North America. With the demand for air travel soaring, pilots are demanding fair wages and improved working conditions, taking inspiration from their American counterparts.

At the heart of these issues lies the struggle to find and retain trained aviation professionals, a problem that airlines across the continent are grappling with. As negotiations between the union and Air Canada continue, the aviation industry closely watches for a resolution that can strike a balance between the pilots' demands and the airline's operational needs.

With Inputs from Reuters

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Cathay Pacific's $4.66 Billion Airbus Purchase

Abhishek Nayar

30 Sep 2023

Cathay Pacific Airways, the renowned Hong Kong-based airline, has announced a significant expansion of its fleet with the purchase of 32 Airbus A321-200neo aircraft from Airbus. The deal, valued at a base price of $4.66 billion, comes as part of the airline's ongoing efforts to modernize and enhance its services.

A Strategic Move

Cathay Pacific's decision to acquire 32 Airbus A321-200neo aircraft is a strategic move that follows a previous agreement dating back to September 2017. This agreement, established between an Airbus affiliate and Cathay Pacific's aircraft acquisition facilitators, laid the foundation for this substantial fleet expansion.

Commitment to Innovation and Passenger Comfort

Cathay Pacific's decision to invest in the Airbus A321-200neo aircraft underscores its commitment to innovation and passenger comfort. These next-generation aircraft are known for their fuel efficiency, reduced environmental footprint, and enhanced passenger amenities. As the aviation industry continues to evolve, Cathay Pacific is positioning itself as a leader in adopting cutting-edge technology and sustainable practices.

Airbus A321-200neo: The Future of Air Travel

The Airbus A321-200neo is part of the A320neo family, which is renowned for its advanced design and operational efficiency. These aircraft are equipped with the latest technology, including fuel-efficient engines and aerodynamic improvements, making them environmentally friendly and cost-effective for airlines. Passengers can also look forward to an upgraded in-flight experience with modern cabin features, including larger windows and improved cabin pressure for a more comfortable journey.

Enhancing Fleet Capacity

These newly acquired aircraft are expected to bolster the fleet capacity of one of Cathay Pacific's subsidiaries, Hong Kong Express. With the delivery of these state-of-the-art Airbus A321neo aircraft anticipated by the end of 2029, Cathay Pacific aims to enhance its operational capabilities and better serve its growing customer base.

Shareholder Approval

In a notable development, the acquisition has received approval from Hong Kong-based conglomerate Swire Pacific and Air China, both of which collectively hold more than 50% of Cathay Pacific's voting rights. It's important to note that Swire Pacific and Air China have no direct interest in the transaction other than as shareholders, highlighting their support for Cathay Pacific's strategic decisions.

Cathay Pacific expressed its gratitude for the approval, underscoring the importance of collaborative decision-making within the company. The airline is committed to maintaining transparency and ensuring that all key stakeholders are informed and included in significant business moves.

This acquisition represents a significant step forward for Cathay Pacific as it positions itself for continued growth and success in the competitive aviation industry. With the addition of these advanced Airbus A321neo aircraft, the airline is well-poised to meet the evolving demands of passengers while further solidifying its position as a leading carrier in the Asia-Pacific region.


Cathay Pacific's purchase of 32 Airbus A321-200neo aircraft is a testament to its commitment to excellence and growth. This strategic acquisition, supported by key stakeholders, will undoubtedly contribute to the airline's success as it continues to provide world-class services to travelers around the globe. With the anticipated delivery of these modern aircraft in the coming years, Cathay Pacific is on course for an exciting chapter in its storied history.

With Inputs from Reuters

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Cathay Group Expands its Fleet with 32 Additional Airbus A320neo Family Aircraft

Abhishek Nayar

30 Sep 2023

Hong Kong's Cathay Group has taken a significant step in bolstering its fleet by announcing the purchase of 32 more Airbus A320neo Family aircraft. This strategic move marks a crucial investment in the group's ongoing efforts to modernize and expand its aircraft fleet. With 13 aircraft from previous orders already delivered, this latest acquisition will double Cathay Group's total orders for the A320neo Family to an impressive 64 aircraft.

Diversified Fleet Expansion

The newly acquired aircraft include both the A321neo and A320neo variants, which are set to be integrated into the fleets of Cathay Pacific and HK Express. These additions will play a pivotal role in enhancing the group's capacity to serve a multitude of destinations, particularly in the Chinese Mainland and across Asia.

Strategic Growth and Recovery

Christian Scherer, Airbus' Chief Commercial Officer and Head of International, expressed his enthusiasm about this collaboration, stating, "Cathay is one of the world's leading airline groups, and we are proud to be a part of its recovery and growth plan." This sentiment underscores the strategic importance of Cathay Group's expansion, not only for the airline but also for the wider aviation industry.

Efficiency and Sustainability

One of the key benefits of the A320neo Family is its exceptional efficiency. These single-aisle aircraft are designed to provide optimal fuel consumption, translating into significant cost savings for the airline. Additionally, this move aligns with Cathay Group's commitment to sustainability, as the new aircraft are expected to contribute to the airline's environmental goals through reduced fuel consumption and emissions.

Geographical Reach

Operating out of its base in Hong Kong, Cathay Group is strategically positioned at the heart of Asia. The acquisition of the A320neo Family will empower the airline to expand its services across the region efficiently. The increased range and passenger capacity of these aircraft will allow Cathay Group to tap into a wider array of routes and destinations, catering to the diverse travel needs of its customers. They will primarily serve destinations in the Chinese Mainland and elsewhere in Asia.

Passenger Comfort

In addition to economic and environmental benefits, the A320neo Family aircraft offer passengers a high level of comfort. With modern cabin designs and amenities, travelers can expect an enhanced flying experience. This passenger-centric approach aligns with Cathay Group's commitment to providing top-notch service to its clientele.

A Positive Outlook

Cathay Group's decision to double its orders for the A320neo Family is a testament to its long-term vision and commitment to excellence. As the aviation industry recovers from the challenges posed by the global pandemic, this expansion signals a vote of confidence in the future of air travel.


The purchase of 32 additional Airbus A320neo Family aircraft by Cathay Group represents a significant milestone in the group's growth and modernization efforts. With a focus on efficiency, sustainability, and passenger comfort, these aircraft will undoubtedly play a vital role in expanding the group's reach and enhancing its service offerings. As Cathay Group continues to navigate the ever-evolving aviation landscape, this strategic move positions it for success in the years to come.

With Inputs from Airbus

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Riyadh Air Likely to Place Large Narrow-Body Aircraft Order In Coming Months Ahead of its Launch in 2025

Radhika Bansal

29 Sep 2023

Saudi Arabia's new airline Riyadh Air has moved to the final stages of agreeing to a sizeable order of narrow-body aircraft, with a deal likely to be announced in the coming months, CEO Tony Douglas was quoted saying by Reuters.

Douglas first said the company was in talks with Airbus and Boeing to buy a significant number of narrow-body jets in June. "Probably in the coming months, we'll reveal (the deal). We're in the final stages of a sizable narrow-body order … and that one might not be our last order either," he told an event in Lisbon.

He said in June the order would be finalised before next year's Farnborough event in July in Britain, which could mean a deal could be announced at the Dubai airshow in November this year.

Riyadh Air ordered 72 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in March 2023. The new airline will take its first deliveries of wide-body jets from Boeing and start operations two years from now in the capital Riyadh. The airline plans to receive its Boeing 787s in early 2025 and launch flights in the same year.  

In May, it was reported by Bloomberg that Boeing was courting the Saudi Arabian airline for a 150-strong 737 MAX order, taking advantage of Airbus' growing A321neo backlog limiting deliveries before 2029. If selected, the roughly USD 8 billion order may boost Boeing's balance sheet following setbacks to its 737 MAX and 787 programs.

Beginning Operations

Riyadh Air is outlining its plans for operations through the end of the decade. Target destinations include Europe, North America, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and major cities across the Persian Gulf. The carrier is set to cover a variety of niche markets and sectors, limiting competition from Emirates and Qatar Airways.

It is also reported that the airline plans to begin operation in 2025, with direct flights to Chinese cities launching in early 2026, as the airline is bullish on growing business and leisure travel demand between China and Saudi Arabia. It plans to launch direct flights connecting Riyadh and key Chinese cities — first Beijing, then Shanghai; Guangzhou, Guangdong province; Chengdu, Sichuan province, and other cities over time.

To meet demand, Riyadh Air is set to hire 700 pilots over the next three years to operate its 787s and future narrowbody fleet. Recruitment is currently ongoing through 2023, with the first flight deck crew members set to join the carrier during Q1 in 2024. Riyadh Air is reportedly seeking pilots with backgrounds in 787-9s aircraft, as well as 777 widebody jets.

Other roles, including cabin crew, engineers, and IT, are also currently open, with the airline receiving a flurry of applications for various positions. Once pilot hiring is completed, Riyadh Air will host a roadshow for prospective cabin crew applicants over the next several months, strengthening its potential crew bases in various cities worldwide. Training is set to continue until Riyadh Air's expected launch in 2025.

Gulf Nation’s New Carrier

Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the country’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, also the Chairman of the PIF, launched Riyadh Air on March 12, 2023. “The establishment of Riyadh Air is part of PIF’s strategy to unlock the capabilities of promising sectors that can help drive the diversification of the local economy. It will enable a more financially resilient aviation ecosystem in Saudi Arabia, supporting the industry’s global competitiveness in line with Vision 2030,” read the announcement by the PIF. 

Riyadh Air hired Tony Douglas, the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Etihad Airways, to lead the company. Other notable hires include Peter Bellew, the airline’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) who has previously worked at Ryanair and easyJet, as well as Malaysia Airlines, and Vincent Coste, the new Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), who worked as the CCO at Kenya Airways and Gulf Air. 

Currently, Saudi Arabia is implementing its '2030 Vision' to accelerate economic diversification. It plans to focus on the development of aviation, automobiles, shipbuilding, infrastructure and digital infrastructure, optimize the economic model that relies solely on energy exports, and attract upstream and downstream industries with large projects.