The preliminary finding of the tri-service investigation into the fatal crash of the Mi-17V5, which led to the death of all 14 who were on board, including Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, has ruled out mechanical failure, sabotage or negligence as the cause of the accident.
The inquiry team said the accident was a result of the helicopter entering into the clouds due to an unexpected change in the weather conditions in the valley in Tamil Nadu, where it crashed. The change of weather led to spatial disorientation of the pilot resulting in a controlled flight into terrain, a statement issued by the defence ministry said.
This is the official finding of the tri-service investigation team headed by Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari and Air Marshal Manvendra Singh. On January 5, they apprised defence minister Rajnath Singh on the findings of the probe.
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CDS Rawat chopper crash a CFIT accident, say officials
It was reported that the crash in Coonor was a controlled flight into terrain accident which refers to the accidental collision with terrain of an airworthy aircraft under the flight crew’s full control. In such accidents, the pilot or the crew are unaware of the danger until it is too late, according to the US Federal Aviation Administration.
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Such CFIT may take place because of human error or a navigation problem as well which, however, have been ruled out in this particular case, in the official findings.
On December 8, CDS Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 12 other Army personnel boarded the copter from Sulur airbase to Wellington airbase. Minutes before the copter was scheduled to reach its destination, the Sulur airbase control room lost contact with the chopper.
Visuals of the helicopter captured by locals before the crash had shown that the chopper was flying at a low altitude and it was cloudy.
Bipin Rawat’s defence advisor Brigadier LS Lidder, staff officer to the Chief of Defence Staff, Lt Col Harjinder Singh and decorated pilot Group Captain Varun Singh were among 13 others killed in the crash.