A fireman guided a plane in to land at an Indian airport after air traffic controllers failed to turn up for work.

The fireman, named by local media as Mr Basha, helped a Jet Airways flight land at Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. The plane was flying in from Hyderabad with 60 passengers on board, reports the BBC.

Tirupati has no approach radar and pilots rely on air traffic controllers to provide runway and weather information and give landing clearance.

The airport handles only seven flights a day but is the landing point for visitors to the Tirumala temple, one of Hinduism’s holiest shrines.

After the air traffic controllers failed to show up for their 7am start, the airport deputy manager asked Mr Basha, whose English was described as broken, to operate the radio in the control tower.

Pilots rely mainly on a visual approach to land at Tirupati and Mr Basha was reported to have supplied the support information needed for about 40 minutes before an air traffic controller arrived for work.

But the Airport Authority of India’s regional executive director, D Devaraj, was not happy about the fireman’s intervention.

He said: “No-one doubts Basha’s intention to help during a crisis. He wanted the flight to land safely. But he is untrained and must not attempt to do the ATC’s job. Mere good intention is not enough in this case.” Airport authorities have launched an investigation into the incident.                               – ON