Joint probe into near miss involving President’s chopper

After a tussle between the Indian Air Force and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation...

Written by Manu Pubby | New Delhi | Published: February 19, 2009 1:11 am

After a tussle between the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) over the sharing of Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cabin Voice Recorder (CVR) information,the government has ordered a joint probe into the near miss involving the President’s helicopter entourage in Mumbai last week.

The joint probe will be headed by DGCA chief Naseem Zaidi and will have a director-level officer from the IAF as part of the investigation panel. The probe was ordered after the IAF refused to share FDR and CVR data onboard the three VVIP choppers with the DGCA-appointed investigation team.

The whole drama played out after Zaida informed the Civil Aviation Secretary M M Nambair that the IAF was not sharing information about the air miss with civilian investigators. Insiders say that Nambair asked Cabinet Secretary K M Chandarsekhar to intervene,who in turn called up the Defence Secretary to sort out the issue.

Sources said that the Defence Ministry pulled up the Air Force and asked it to share the information with the probe team but the IAF insisted that one of its officers should be part of the investigation panel.

It was finally decided that the probe would be headed by Zaidi and the IAF’s Director of Helicopter Operations would be on the team. “A joint enquiry has been ordered. We will wait for the outcome of the report,” an IAF spokesperson said.

The row over the near miss involving the Presidential chopper entourage and a civil airliner on February 9 had erupted into an ugly brawl between the IAF and the Civil Aviation Ministry with each side blaming the other for the miscommunication.

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