Dorjee chopper not suited for adverse weather: Preliminary probe

Dorjee chopper not suited for adverse weather: Preliminary probe

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.