Loud noise heard across Bengaluru was sonic boom from routine IAF test flight, clarifies defence ministry; quashes rumours of earthquakes

An Indian Air Force fighter plane on a routine sortie caused the sonic boom that created panic across Bengaluru on Wednesday afternoon, the defence ministry confirmed late on Wednesday night.

FP Trending May 21, 2020 09:04:16 IST
Loud noise heard across Bengaluru was sonic boom from routine IAF test flight, clarifies defence ministry; quashes rumours of earthquakes

Late in the evening on Wednesday, the Ministry of Defence finally broke the mystery by releasing an official statement that the sound from the sky that took Bengaluru by surprise "was a routine IAF Test Flight involving a supersonic profile which took off from Bengaluru Airport and flew in the allotted airspace well outside City limits. The aircraft was of ASTE."

According to a Times of India report, Prior to that the Indian Air Force in a statement indicated towards sonic boom as the source of the sound but also admitting that none of its aircraft from its Training Command was airborne during that time. Although the IAF said that the ASTE (Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment) and HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) could be conducting routine test flying it stopped short of making it official.

Interestingly, HAL was the first to respond with a statement after the loud noise was heard in Bengaluru but only with a denial that it was a sonic boom.

A deafening noise was heard on Wednesday afternoon that created panic across Bengaluru.

  "The sonic boom was probably heard while the aircraft was decelerating from supersonic to subsonic speed between 36,000 and 40000 feet altitude," the defence ministry added in a follow up tweet. "The aircraft was far away from the city limits when this occurred. The sound of a sonic boom can be heard and felt by an observer even when the aircraft is flying as far away as 65 to 80 kilometres away from the person," the defence ministry further said on Twitter.   Sources told The Times of India the fighter plane was most likely one of the SU-30 fighters being tested by the IAF's Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment pilots. A retired pilot told the newspaper, "There are parameters of how to do a supersonic test. If it is indeed from a plane, then it's a mistake. Pilots can go supersonic only after the aircraft has attained a height of more than 11 km. They are disallowed from doing so in populous areas even at those heights." According to NASA, a sonic boom is a thunder-like noise one hears from the ground when an aircraft flies overhead "faster than the speed of sound, or supersonic.” The noise heard across Bengaluru around 1.30 pm on Wednesday was heard by residents of Cooke Town, Hosur Road, HAL, Vivek Nagar, Old Madras Road, Ramamurthy Nagar, Ulsoor, Kammanahalli, CV Raman Nagar, Kundanahalli, Whitefield and HSR Layout. It caused a number of people to share their experiences on social media and speculate about its cause. Some said the noise sounded like an aftershock from an earthquake. Others said their doors and windows rattled. 

According to a report by The News Minute, Bengaluru Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao said that was no damage anywhere in the city.

 A report by The Indian Express quoted police personnel at the Bengaluru City Police Control Room saying that they started receiving calls around 1:20 pm.

Karnataka State Natural Disaster Management Centre (KSNDMC) Director Srinivas Reddy said that there was no earthquake activity recorded on Wednesday in Bengaluru. “The seismometers did not capture any ground vibration as generally happens during a mild tremor,” he said.

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