CDS helicopter crash: Investigation report ruled out technical snag or conspiracy


Investigators of the December 8 crash have ruled out any technical glitch or conspiracy behind the crash of the two-engined Mi-17 V5 helicopter made in Russia. Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) condition due to bad weather has been considered as the main cause of the incident.

General Bipin Rawat. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: There was no technical glitch or conspiracy in the crash of the Air Force helicopter while carrying Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat near Coonoor. Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) condition due to bad weather has been considered as the main cause of the incident.

Sources familiar with the developments gave this information on Wednesday. It is to be known that Rawat and 13 others were killed in this accident on December 8.

CFIT refers to a situation when an aircraft is in control at the time of an accident but due to bad weather or pilot error, an aircraft collides with ground, water or other obstructions.

It is noteworthy that just after the accident, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh had informed in the Lok Sabha that ‘General Rawat along with his wife and 12 others had taken off from Sulur in a Mi-17V5 helicopter for Wellington at 11:48 am. Which was to land in Wellington at 12.15 pm. The Sulur Air Traffic Controller lost contact with the helicopter at 12.08 am. Later, local people saw a fire in the forest near Coonoor. Going to the spot, he saw the helicopter engulfed in flames, after which a rescue team of the local administration reached there.

The Defense Minister had told that people were evacuated from the helicopter and taken to the Military Hospital in Wellington as soon as possible. Of the total 14 people on board the helicopter, 13 died in the accident, including CDS General Rawat and his wife Madhulika Rawat.

Among the other dead were Brig Lakhwinder Singh Lidder, Defense Advisor to CDS, Lt Col Harjinder Singh, Military Advisor and Staff Officer to CDS, Wing Commander Prateek Singh Chauhan, Squadron Leader Kuldeep Singh, Junior Warrant Officer Rana Pratap Das, Junior Officers Arakkal Pradeep, Havildar Satpal, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitendra Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar and Lance Naik Veer Sai Teja were involved.

Group Captain Varun Singh, who was seriously injured in the accident, died on 15 December.

The accident occurred in the Kateri-Nanjappanachathiram area when General Rawat was on his way to address faculty members and student officials at the Defense Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington.

Singh had told that a team of the three services under the leadership of Air Marshal Manvendra Singh had started investigation in this matter.

Now the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal VR Choudhary and Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, who are now leading the investigation, apprised Defense Minister Rajnath Singh of the findings of the investigation on Wednesday.

The sources said investigators have also ruled out the possibility of any technical glitch or conspiracy behind the crash of the two-engined Mi-17 V5 helicopter made in Russia.

The accident took place when the helicopter was taking off from Sulur airbase for Wellington on December 8.

According to experts, CFIT refers to a situation when an attempt is made to land an aircraft on land, water or other areas due to bad weather or pilot error. The occurrence of CFIT usually occurs in bad weather conditions or when the aircraft is landing.

There has been no official comment by the Indian Air Force or the Defense Ministry on the investigation report.

According to IATA (International Air Transport Association), CFIT refers to accidents when an aircraft collides with canyons, water or other obstructions without indicating loss of control. The key difference in these types of accidents is that the aircraft is under the control of the flight crew.

The US Federal Aviation Administration describes CFIT as an unintentional collision with an area (ground, mountain, reservoir, or any obstruction) and occurs when the driver has complete control of the aircraft.

People aware of the development said that the situation of CFIT could be created due to sudden cloud cover. An expert in the aviation sector said, “Sometimes, the pilot may lose situational consciousness due to visibility disruption.”

Videos made by local people before the accident show that the helicopter was flying at a low altitude. The helicopter crashed in Wellington about eight minutes before its scheduled landing.

Sources said the investigation team investigated all possible scenarios for the accident, including possible human error. It was also ascertained whether it was a case of lapse by the crew.

Air Marshal Singh, who led the investigation team, is currently serving as the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Bengaluru-headquartered Training Command of the Indian Air Force.

Singh is considered one of the best investigators in the country to investigate the accident in the airspace. Defense Secretary Ajay Kumar and several senior officials of the ministry were present when Indian Air Force officials briefed the Defense Minister.

(with input from news agency language)

Categories: India, Special

Tagged as: Air Marshal Manavendra Singh, CFIT, Chief of Defence Staff, Controlled Flight Into Terrain, Coonoor in Tamil Nadu, General Bipin Rawat, Helicopter Crash, IAF Mi 17 V5 helicopter, Indian Air Force, investigation, Madhulika Rawat, News, Rajnath Singh, The Wire Hindi


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