Groundwork helped locating wreckage early


This was the biggest ever co-ordinated search operation in the country, involving both aerial and ground elements, including the IAF airborne elements, ISRO, National Remote Sensing Agency, besides the US department of defence satellites, 5,000 para-military personnel, the AP police, Greyhound commandos and tribals. The wreckage was found almost 24 hours after the Bell-430 helicopter went missing around 9.35 am on Wednesday. The wreckage was located atop a hill in the Nallamala forests, 40 km from Kurnool.

IAF told Deccan Herald that the overall task-force commander for the operation was Air Commodore V S Bharti, the Air Officer Commanding, Air Force Station, Yelahanka. The wreckage was spotted around 9 am after over two hours of search and the pilot instantly communicated the success to the air base.

The team of helicopter pilots actually located the wreckage in the Nallamala forests after hours of ground work since Wednesday evening. In order to home in on their target they evolved a search pattern based on the helicopter’s speed and the time it would take to traverse the pre-determined flight path, besides its last contact with the nearest Air Traffic Control.

To further narrow down their search the authorities also plotted on a Google Earth map and their initial assessment proved correct. Also, they obtained various inputs from the AP government’s disaster management committee which included wireless calls made by
the officials flying on the helicopter minutes before it crashed into a hill.

The IAF authorities coordinated with the Andhra Pradesh chief secretary and set up a control room in Kurnool. In the interests of aviation safety, they requested the AP government not to allow civilian aircraft in the general area without clearance from the task force commander.     

Their command headquarters here reportedly coordinated with the local army authorities and a Special Forces’ team travelled to Kurnool from where the IAF took them on board the search helicopters.

The army team, specialised in helicopter-borne operations, slithered down ropes before they could identify the bodies after careful and minute observation. Besides the Mi-8 helicopters, a Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter too participated in the operation.

Probe ordered

The Civil Aviation Ministry on Thursday constituted a committee for inquiry into the Bell 430 helicopter crash which was carrying Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Rajshekar Reddy and others, reports DHNS from New Delhi. 

Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited Chairman and Managing Director R K Tyagi has been appointed as head of the inquiry committee. The committee will inquire into the circumstances of the accident and submit a report to the Government in two months.

Flight Operation Inspector of Director General of Civil Aviation ( DGCA) Irshad Ahmad, Senior Air Safety Officer of the Directorate of Air Safety ( DAS) Sanjay Bramhane are members of the committee. Deputy Director of Air Safety Maneesh Kumar is member secretary.

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