The Indian Air Force (IAF), keen to get to the bottom of the mystery behind the crash of one its of its most modern C-130J special operations aircraft, has sent the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder of the plane to the US for analysis and retrieval of data.
With hints that some element of human error or misjudgement led to the accident, the IAF is keen to get as much information on the last moments before the crash as possible since it has safety implications for the rest of the fleet.
Sources said the black box suffered some damage in the crash after the broken aircraft caught fire. It is believed that most of the wires and connectors of the black box were damaged, necessitating the assistance of manufacturer Lockheed Martin that has now been roped in for investigation.
The flight data recorder of the downed aircraft has already been sent across and the IAF is hopeful of retrieving useful information off it, despite its damaged condition. What has added to the mystery behind the crash of a brand new aircraft is the fact that there was never any distress call or signal from its crew before the sudden impact.
As reported, eyewitness accounts say the aircraft first scraped a hillock before crashing and breaking up onto a riverbed 72 miles west of Gwalior. Some of the five crew members were thrown out of the plane on impact while several sections of the aircraft caught fire.
The lead aircraft of the formation was the first to notice the loss of the aircraft and the information was relayed to search and rescue helicopters in Gwalior. The sources have said the two aircraft formation was conducting low level tactical flying training when the incident occurred.
By some accounts, the aircraft could not recover from a dive on time, scraping the hillock and causing its destruction.
The exact cause of the crash will however be established after a court of inquiry by the IAF that will consider the training mission the aircraft was on, flight data recorder information, communication of the crew with air controllers as well as accounts from the lead aircraft of the formation that landed back safely in Agra.
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