IAF helicopter crash: All possible angles being probed

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The tri-services team investigating the tragic chopper crash near Coonoor that killed CDS Gen Bipin Rawat and 12 others is focusing on all possible reasons including whether a human error caused the accident, people familiar with the development said on Thursday.

The black box, comprising the flight data recorder (FDR) and the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), of the ill-fated Mi-17V5 helicopter of the Indian Air Force was recovered from the crash site on Thursday.

While the CVR will provide details about the communication between the pilots and the air traffic control, the FDR will provide information like altitude, speed and other technical data of the chopper.

The Chief of Defence Staff had left the Palam airbase in an IAF Embraer aircraft at 8:47 am and landed at Sulur airbase at 11:34 am. He took off from Sulur in a Mi-17V5 chopper at around 1148 am for Wellington, official sources said.

The chopper crashed at around 12:22 pm, they said, adding it was to land at Wellington at around 12:15 pm.

“All angles including possible human error will be investigated,” a senior military offcial said.

In a statement in Parliament, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced ordering a tri-services enquiry into the accident.

Air Marshal Manavendra Singh, who is heading the tri-services team investigating the tragic chopper crash near Coonoor, is a helicopter pilot and oversaw probes into various air accidents involving IAF platforms.

Several former and serving military commanders described Air Marshal Singh, currently heading the Bengaluru-headquartered Training Command of the IAF, as the “best” available air crash investigator in the country.

Before taking the reins of the Training Command, the Air Marshal was the Director General (Inspection and Safety) at the Air headquarters and developed various protocols for flight safety while serving in the post.

In a distinguished career spanning over 38 years, the Air Officer has flown a wide variety of helicopters and trainer aircraft. He is a qualified flying instructor with vast instructional experience and over 6600 hours of accident-free flying in various challenging sectors like the Siachen, the Northeast, Uttarakhand, the Western desert and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Air Marshal has also served in tri-service joint institutions and was Assistant Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Joint Operations) at the headquarters of Integrated Defence Staff.

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