Inclement weather forced copter crash

Inclement weather forced copter crash

 
While only the black box and the inquiry - already ordered by the civil aviation ministry – will throw light on the cause of yet another air accident killing a leading politician, experts have pointed out that the adverse factors mentioned above could have been the reason for Wednesday’s tragedy.

The ill-fated helicopter (Bell 430) was flying on the VFR mode [visual flight rules] which in effect means that the pilot is not aided by the chopper’s instruments to know the weather conditions along the flight path. Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel admitted on Thursday that the machine was on VFR mode and that technical issues involved in the crash needed to be gone into in detail. In such cases, it is left completely to the pilots to assess the weather conditions to fly the machine.

“The chopper was operating under VFR instead of being instrument-guided. It is a decision of the pilot. But the facts would be out only after the investigations” Patel said.

Another key instrument of the chopper – the Emergency Location Transmitter (ELT) – did not emit signals which would have otherwise made the search for the wreckage easier. “I have been told that ELT has never gone off in the past helicopter crashes. Only the inquiry will have to tell us why ELT did not function”. Experts said it may have been burnt out in the crash or that the ELT malfunctioned due to a technical problem.

Black box key

The key to unravel the truth in any air accident – the black box – has been recovered from the accident site, said authorities. It would, however, take some time to decode the data from the orange colour black box. In order to protect the black box in the event of mishaps, it is kept away from the fuel-holding part of the aircraft.

Authorities believe the chopper might have hit the hill, exploded and disintegrated. It may have drifted from its path because of a large cloud formation resulting in the machine crashing against the cliff. On Wednesday, the DGCA [Directorate general of civil aviation], which is conducting the inquiry, had maintained that the chopper had fuel to fly another 2 hours and 24 minutes at the time of its disappearance. Choppers normally fly a distance of about 500 km at a stretch at an altitude ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 feet. According to the Bell website, Bell 430 has maximum weight of 4,128 kg, speed of 278 km/hr and max range of 654 km.

“The DGCA has begun investigations to find out the cause that led to the crash of the chopper. Our preliminary reports say the helicopter may have run into bad weather,” Minister Patel said. “There was no indication of a snag or shortcoming throughout the flight.” The chopper had the weather radar and was technically capable of flying even in ‘blind conditions’. He did not spell out the time by which the DGCA would complete its probe.

Life and times of YSR

* Born in a middle class family in Pulivendula, a small town in Kadapa district, on July 8, 1949. The eldest of five sons of Y S Raja Reddy, a dynamic local leader

*Studied in M R Medical College in Gulbarga

*After doing MBBS, YSR served as a medical officer at Jammalamadugu Mission Hospital for a brief period

*Married to Vijaya Lakshmi SR leaves behind a son, Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, Kadapa MP, and daughter Sharmila

*Entered active politics in 1978 and was elected to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly from Pulivendula

*Served as state minister from 1980 to 1983 and  retained the Assembly seat in 1983 even when N T Rama Rao came to power with a ammoth victory

*His father became a victim of violent, factional politics of Kadapa when he was hacked to death more than a decade ago.

*Turned 60 on July 8, 2009.

Timeline

September 2; 08:35 am:

Twin-engined Bell 430 AP government helicopter carrying the Chief Minister YSR, his Principal Secretary S Subramanyam and Chief Security Officer A S C Wesley, takes off from old Begumpet airport for Chitoor district.

09:35 am: Helicopter loses contact while flying over Nallamalai forest range.
PM’s Office, Home Ministry and Defence Ministry alerted. Four helicopters, an unmanned aerial vehicle pressed into service.

04:00 pm: Finance Minister K Rosaiah addresses press conference in Hyderabad to say no word on the chief minister.

05:30 pm: CRPF personnel and army jawans enter Nallamalai forest with night vision devices.

06:30 pm: Search called off due to poor light and bad weather.

07:00 pm: IAF Sukhoi-30 MKI with thermal imaging devices deployed.
September 3; 05:00 am: Sukhoi aircraft and a pilot-less low-flying ISRO aircraft scour the forest area.

06:30 am: Union Ministers Veerappa Moily and Prithviraj Chavan reach AP.
08:30 am: Ill-fated helicopter located 40 km east of Kurnool in the hills of Nallamalai ranges.

10:00 am: Bodies of the chief minister and four others and the mangled remains of the helicopter found on Rudrakoderu Hill.

10:30 am: Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee, A K Antony, P Chidambaram and Ahmed Patel meet in the core Congress group meeting.

12:30 am: P Chidambaram announces the death of Y S R and four others.



Quote hanger

The void his passing away has left behind will never be filled Prime Minister

Manmohan Singh

Throughout his chief ministership he worked for the uplift of every section of society, particularly for the farmers and for the poorer sections of society

Cong chief Sonia Gandhi

In his death, the people of Andhra Pradesh and the country at large lost a very able and popular leader of the masses. His contribution to the development of Andhra Pradesh and particularly the deprived classes of the society is praiseworthy  Opposition Leader L

K Advani

The death of Rajasekhara Reddy in a tragic helicopter accident has shocked everyone. His untimely death is a big loss for Andhra Pradesh and the Congress

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat

The chief minister was a strong supporter of
US-India friendship and our bilateral partnership, visible in the strong economic and family ties between the people of Andhra Pradesh and the US

US Ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer




Chief Security Officer A S C Wesley and Principal Secretary  S Subramanyam who were on board YSR’s chopper. PTI

 

 

 

 

 


Pilot Group Captain S K Bhatia and co-pilot M S Reddy minutes before boarding the ill-fated Bell 430 helicopter. PTI

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