Multiple questions emerge, safety record questioned

Multiple questions emerge, safety record questioned

The debris of the chartered plane that crashed in Ghatkopar's Jivdaya Lane, in Mumbai on Friday. PTI

A day after a Beechcraft King Air C-90 crashed killing five people, multiple questions have emerged over the “test flight” during which the plane came down.

The family members of the crew members have refused to accept that small plane belonging to UY Aviation Pvt Ltd was fit to be flown.

Meanwhile, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is conducting a preliminary inquiry following which the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) would conduct a detailed probe.

The four crew members who died in the crash in Ghatkopar include Capt Pradeep Rajput, Capt Marya Zuberi, maintenance engineer Surabhi Gupta and technician Manish Pandey.

Besides, the pedestrian who died was identified as Govind Dubey, who was a carpenter.

The three key questions that the families have asked and wanted to know — who cleared the aircraft as fit for flying, who authorised the test flight and who told that the weather was okay for a small aircraft to be test flown.

“UY Aviation Pvt Ltd King Air C-90 aircraft VT-UPZ has met with an unfortunate accident at Mumbai on June 28, 2018. The aircraft last flew on 22 Feb 2008 when it was with the UP government," the ministry of civil aviation said.

The aircraft was later bought by UY Aviation in 2014. "Thereafter, the aircraft was under maintenance for past one-and-a-half years. It was the first test flight of the aircraft upon completion of maintenance task before applying for a grant of Certificate of Airworthiness/ Airworthiness Review Certificate by DGCA. As per the regulatory provisions, before any test flight, a certificate to the effect that the aircraft is fit for flight is required to be issued by the authorised certifying staff of the operator or MRO," the ministry added.

Family members of Rajput, Marya and Surabhi felt that the weather was not perfect for the test flight.

“Both Capt Rajput and Marya were good flyers. Both had undertaken test flights earlier. They felt that the weather was not okay for the flight,” Marya’s husband Pradeep Kathuria said.

In fact, Rajput was formerly with the Indian Air Force. “The family members of Pradeep informed me that the plane had to be tested on Thursday itself. We were against it. Despite unfavourable weather conditions, the test was done,” claimed Kulvinder Chauhan, a relative of the Delhi-based pilot.

Meanwhile, Surabhi’s father S P Gupta said in Sonepat that it was a sick aircraft. “It was in the morning that we spoke over the phone. We had a routine conversation before she told me that the aircraft she was going to fly in later in the day was sick. She said the aircraft was in a bad condition. How was permission given to fly a sick aircraft and who gave this permission,” he said.

“It is shocking...we are shattered,” said an emotional Gopal Dubey, the brother of Govind. Till noon, they had not claimed the body.

“No one has come to meet us so far,” he said, adding that the family hails from Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh.