Dorjee chopper not suited for adverse weather: Prel probe

A preliminary probe into the recent helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others has found the chopper was not suited to fly in adverse weather conditions.

New Delhi: A preliminary probe into the
recent helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Arunachal
Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others has
found the chopper was not suited to fly in adverse weather
conditions.

The ill-fated Eurocopter AS 350 B3, a
single-engined helicopter, though new was not fitted with
required instruments to negotiate hostile weather using
Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), sources said today quoting
preliminary findings on the April 30 crash.

The Pawan Hans helicopter, a four-seater pressed into
service in December last year, was also overloaded as it had
five persons on board, they said.

It went missing 20 minutes after taking off from
Arunachal`s border town of Tawang on way to state capital
Itanagar. Its wreckage and the bodies were located after five
days of intense search on high mountainsand dense forests.

The chopper was being flown under Visual Flight Rules
(VFR) as it was not equipped with IFR instruments, the sources
said. Under IFR, an aircraft has to be flown solely with
reference to these instruments.

Latest rules on helicopter operations, which came into
effect a year ago, prohibit single-engine chopper operations
at night and under `instrument meteorological conditions`.

These conditions refer to weather situations that require the
use of external navigation and landing aids that permit the
pilots to manoeuvre and land manually without difficulty.

But the weather conditions on the fateful day were not
conducive to VFR as well as for single-engine operations, the
sources said, adding that the flight path the chopper took
was guided by instrument meteorological condition.

Pawan Hans officials said that Capt T S Malik and Capt
J S Babbar, who flew the ill-fated chopper, were experienced
pilots having over 4,000 hours and 3,200 hours of flying
hours.

A full-fledged probe has now been started by a three-
member Committee of Inquiry headed by Air Marshal (Retd) P S
Ahluwalia which was set up by the Civil Aviation Ministry.

The panel, which has been asked to submit its report
in three months, would investigate and determine the cause and
contributory factors leading to the accident and make
recommendations to avoid recurrence of such incidents.

PTI