5 small parachute-like objects were seen approaching from the southwest direction of the Mumbai airport and moving towards northeast along with the wind. The airfield staff sounded an alert to the air traffic control tower, which in turn asked pilots lined up for take-off and landing to be cautious, since they were crossing the runway of intersection. The aerial objects created a flutter at the Mumbai airport, when two Jet Airways flights were asked to abort take-off and landing.
Directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) said that the Indian Meteorological Department's airport bureau in Santacruz might have set off balloons to collect weather data. "The weather balloons travelled from the southwest owing to the current wind pattern. The flight paths match with the location where airport staff spotted the aerial objects," said a senior DGCA official.
The chutes were flying across the breadth of the Mumbai Airport in a tight formation for around 6 minutes and are moving against the wind, prompting that they are controlled. The five chutes were clearly seen moving south to north at a time strong winds were blowing from the perpendicular south-westerly direction. Independent assessment of available facts, prima-facie showed that the objects were radio controlled and appeared to be bigger than hobby parachutes and smaller than those used by professional jumpers.
"These balloons fly at an altitude much higher than the touchdown levels used by scheduled flights. Therefore there are slim chances of them coming in the way of air traffic," said SG Kamble, director of radar, IMD Mumbai airport bureau.
Weather balloon flies in a high altitude balloon carrying instruments aloft to send back information on atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity and wind speed using small, expendable measuring device called a radiosonde.
"There has been no conclusion yet on the parachutes or their purpose. Nobody has lodged a complaint with us," said deputy commissioner of police Virendra Mishra. Multiple agencies including the ATC, the IAF, the CISF and the Mumbai Police are probing the matter. Since the parachutes were moving towards Juhu, the airport police had informed the Juhu ATC as well. Altogether there is a confusion and unnecessary panic about these objects seen moving in and around the Mumbai airport.