Air Force to brief Defense Minister at 11
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh is to be briefed by Air Force officials at 11 a.m. on the findings of the report on the helicopter crash by General Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Defense Staff.
An investigation by the three services had been ordered into the helicopter crash in the Nilgiri hills of Tamil Nadu on December 8 which killed General Rawat, his wife Madhulika and 11 other members of the armed forces.
Neither the Air Force nor the government have yet made a statement on the report or its findings, but sources told NDTV last week that reduced visibility due to bad weather may have contributed to the crash.
There has also been no statement or explanation so far as to whether the pilot’s error was the underlying cause of the crash or whether the cloud operating rules In hilly areas were ignored.
Sources told NDTV that the Court of Inquiry – led by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, the country’s top helicopter pilot – believes the pilot of the MI-17v5 that crashed may have been disoriented through inclement weather and accidentally hit the ground.
This is called CFIT, or Controlled Flight Into Terrain.
Sources also said the investigation had ruled out any possibility of technical errors or mechanical faults.
In the days following the crash, cellphone videos – taken by locals and shared by the ANI news agency – emerged from the helicopter’s final moments.
A clip shows a helicopter flying through thick cloud cover that has suddenly emerged to overlook the Coonoor Hills and a change in the sound of the helicopter’s engine can be heard.
The Air Force has not commented on the authenticity of this or any other video.
Sources told ANI News Agency the helicopter was flying low and the crew decided to try and fly out of the cloud cover rather than try to land and touch the ground in the process.
The Russian-made Mi-17V5 helicopter – which several former military officers told NDTV to be extremely reliable and very safe – crashed seven minutes before it landed.
General Rawat was on his way to Defense Staff Services College in Wellington, Tamil Nadu (near Ooty) to deliver a speech to professors and students when the helicopter crashed, killing all but one person.
Group captain Varun Singh, a passenger on the plane, died a few days later at the Bengaluru Air Force Command Hospital from severe burns.
General Rawat, his wife and everyone on board had a funeral with full military honors, and thousands of people paid tribute to their memory, including the governments of major foreign powers.
With the contribution of ANI