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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Rawat helicopter crash: IAF Chief briefs Rajnath on probe, bad weather likely reason

Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari and Air Marshal Manvendra Singh who headed the tri-service investigation into the crash apprised Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on the findings of the probe on Wednesday.

Written by Krishn Kaushik | New Delhi |
Updated: January 6, 2022 7:19:19 am
NDA, Bipin Rawat, Gen Rawat, Coonoor, Pune, Pune news, Indian express, Indian express news, Pune latest newsChief of Defence Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat.

The Helicopter crash in which Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and 13 others were killed was caused by bad weather, sources told The Indian Express, even as the IAF top brass on Wednesday briefed Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on findings of the probe into the December 8 incident.

According to the sources, the probe has ruled out human error or technical snag as well as sabotage as possible causes.

Although there is no official word yet on the probe findings, the sources said the investigation found that the Mi-17v5 helicopter carrying General Rawat and others encountered sudden bad weather, which could have resulted in it hitting a surface before crashing in a forest near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu.

The wreckage of the crashed IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021. (PTI)

General Rawat was headed to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington along with his wife Madhulika Rawat and a dozen members from the services when the helicopter crashed.

According to the sources, the helicopter was descending for landing when it was suddenly caught in bad weather. They said Wellington is located in a topographic bowl and often has a slight fog cover.

The bad weather led to what in aviation terms is known as Controlled Flight into Terrain (CIFT), in which a pilot, who is in control of the aircraft, hits a surface unintentionally.

CIFT is one of the main causes of aircraft crashes globally.

On Wednesday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was briefed by Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari and Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, who headed the tri-service investigation into the crash, on the probe findings. The probe report was submitted to Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari earlier.

Sources said a review of the standard protocols for helicopters carrying senior military officials is likely to be recommended.

A day after the crash, the Defence Minister had announced a tri-service Court of Inquiry into the incident. The probe team headed by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, who is the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Training Command, included a Commodore-level helicopter pilot from the Navy and a Brigadier-level senior Army officer.

Among other aspects, the probe team also examined the black box, which comprises the Flight Data Recorder and the Cockpit Voice Recorder, that was recovered from the crash site.

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