5 killed as private plane crashes in Mumbai

5 killed as private plane crashes in Mumbai

Firefighters inspect the site of a plane crash in Mumbai on Thursday. Reuters

A chartered eight-seater aircraft on a test flight crashed into Mumbai’s congested central suburbs of Ghatkopar on Thursday, killing both the pilots, an aircraft maintenance engineer and a technician on board, besides a pedestrian.

The Beechcraft King Air C 90 (number VT-UPZ), owned by UY Aviation Pvt Ltd, crashed around 1.15 pm at an under-construction site surrounded by slums and several buildings. The toll could have been higher had the plane hit any of the buildings.

The deceased include pilot Capt P S Rajput, co-pilot and navigator Capt Maria Zuberi, aircraft maintenance engineer Surabhi Gupta, technician Manish Kumar Pande and pedestrian Govind Pandit. Three construction workers were injured in the incident.

“There was a loud explosion as the aircraft hit at tree and smashed into the ground,” said Amit Shah, who stays near the accident site.

 Black box recovered

 Officials of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation inspected the spot. “Initial investigations will be done by the DGCA after which a detailed enquiry will be conducted by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau,” officials said.

The black box has been recovered and handed over to civil aviation authorities.

The aircraft had taken off from Juhu airport and was to return there. It was on a test flight after a maintenance period.
The plane was earlier owned by the Uttar Pradesh government which sold it to UY Aviation in 2004.

“As of now, it is neither owned nor operated by the Uttar Pradesh government,” said UP Civil Aviation Minister Nand Gopal Gupta.

The plane crashed less than three kilometres from the main runway of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. There are also questions as to why the private aircraft was in the “funnel zone” of the airport, meant for commercial flights.

“The alertness of the pilot saved many lives. Instead of crashing into a crowded area, the pilot chose an under-construction building,” said Raja Raut, a resident.

“It is a worrying incident. A probe will reveal the causes behind the accident,” said Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also holds the Home portfolio.