Monday, July 25, 2011

Piper J3L-65 Cub, N81BF: Fatal accident occurred July 25, 2011 in Van Dyne, Wisconsin

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: CEN11FA505 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, July 25, 2011 in Van Dyne, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/26/2012
Aircraft: PIPER J3L-65, registration: N81BF
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airplane was one of a flight of two that departed for a local sightseeing flight over the lake. The pilot of the other airplane stated that they flew east to the lake and followed the lake shore south at altitudes varying between 1,000 and 1,400 feet. He stated that the accident airplane began a maneuver by pitching up and then climbing. The left wing then dropped and the airplane yawed to the left and descended. During the descent, the airplane became inverted, and the nose of the airplane started to rise and the airplane began to roll to the right. As the airplane rolled, the right wing contacted the water and the airplane crashed into the lake. Rescue divers reported the rear seat passenger was not restrained and the pilot was restrained in his seat. It is possible that there could have been some inadvertent interference with the flight controls by the passenger, but it could not be determined conclusively. A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any failures or malfunctions that would have resulted in the loss of control. An autopsy performed on the pilot determined that multiple cysts that were caused by a parasite were located in the white matter of his brain. It could not be determined if this condition played a role in the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s inability to maintain airplane control while maneuvering for reasons that could not be determined from the available evidence.

On July 25, 2011, at 1145 central daylight time, a Piper J3L-65, N81BF, collided with the waters of Lake Winnebago, near Van Dyne, Wisconsin, following a loss of control while performing an aerobatic maneuver. The airline transport certificated pilot and the passenger onboard were both fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The local personal flight was being operated under 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from the Wittman Regional Airport (OSH), Oshkosh, Wisconsin, at 1127.

The pilot flew to OSH on the day prior to the accident to attend the EAA AirVenture fly-in.

The accident airplane departed OSH along with another Piper Cub for a local sightseeing flight over Lake Winnebago. The pilot and the pilot-rated passenger in the other airplane stated both airplanes flew down the coastline at altitudes varying between 1,000 feet and 1,400 feet. They stated the accident pilot was performing a maneuver when the accident occurred. The airplane pitched up, climbed, and yawed to the left, entering a descent. During the course of the maneuver, the airplane became inverted and impacted the lake. They contacted air traffic control at OSH and circled the area until they saw a boat approach the accident site at which time they returned to OSH.

A witness reported seeing two airplanes flying at an altitude estimated to be about 300 feet above the water. The airplanes were traveling from the north to south. The witness stated that both airplanes were flying slow and making slow turns above the lake. He stated they were not flying aerobatic maneuvers. He stated he looked away momentarily when his wife stated that one of the airplanes was flying upside down. He stated he looked back toward the airplanes and saw one of them upside down and descending into the lake. He stated he did not see how the airplane got to be upside down. 


The pilot, age 47, held an airline transport pilot certificate with an airplane multi-engine rating and commercial privileges for single-engine land airplanes. The pilot held type ratings in B747, B727, B737, B757, B77, CE-560XL, and L-1011 airplanes. He held a first-class airman medical certificate dated February 14, 2011. The medical certificate did not contain any limitations. 

The pilot’s wife provided four pilot logbooks the first of which began in May 1983, and the last of which ended March 1997. The pilot’s wife stated he kept an electronic logbook on his cell phone and that he had stopped logging small airplane time some time ago. 

The pilot was currently employed as a Boeing 747 first officer for a CFR Part 121 operator. The operator provided the resume that the pilot submitted to them when he was seeking employment. On the resume, the date of which is unknown, the pilot listed having 12,256 hours of flight time, of which 1,840 hours were in single-engine airplanes. The operator also supplied a Pilot Flight and Duty Time Record listing the hours the pilot had flown during his employment. This document contained flights between December 5, 2010, to July 28, 2011, which totaled 534 hours. 

The pilot purchased the accident airplane in April 2010. It could not be determined from the records available, how much flight time the pilot had in the accident airplane. 


The high-wing, fabric covered, tail-wheeled airplane, serial number 6084, was manufactured in 1940. The 2-place airplane contained a tandem seating arrangement. Shoulder harnesses and seatbelts were installed in both the front and rear seats in October 2009. A Continental C90-8 engine, serial number 30158-5-A., powered the airplane

The airframe and engine logbooks were not located during the course of the investigation. The tachometer hour meter indicated 219.7 at the time of the accident.


A review of the recorded surface observation weather data from the Wittman Regional Airport (OSH), Oshkosh, Wisconsin, located approximately 8 miles northwest of the accident site, revealed the conditions at 1153 were: wind from 230 degrees at 5 knots; visibility 10 miles; clear sky; temperature 26 degrees Celsius; dewpoint 16 degree Celsius; and altimeter setting 29.97 inches of mercury.


The wreckage was located in Lake Winnebago, approximately ½ mile east of Wendt’s Harbor. The crew of a barge that was in the area heard about the accident on the marine radio and went to the area to try and assist. With the assistance of rescue divers, they were able to place straps around the airplane and lift it from the lake onto the barge. The airplane was then brought to shore and transferred to a flatbed truck.

The fuselage aft of the rear seat was intact and relatively undamaged with the exception of fabric wrinkles. The elevator and rudder were intact. Both the left and right sides of the cockpit were crushed inward. The top of the fuselage was broken open. 

Both wings were bent forward, the wooden wing spars were broken at the fuselage, and the wing struts for both wings were bent. With the exception of the spar near the fuselage, the remainder of the left wing was intact and it sustained relatively little damage. The right wing sustained impact damage. The fabric along the entire right wing was wrinkled in a relatively uniform manner. The right aileron remained attached to the wing. The outboard section of the aileron and the wing tip were crushed upward. 

Control continuity was established from the cockpit to all of the flight control surfaces. 

The fuel selector was positioned to Both, the throttle was in the Open position, the carburetor heat was Off, and the airplane was trimmed to nose down. 

The engine remained attached to the firewall. The outboard section on both wooden propeller blades was shattered. An examination of the engine revealed the spark plugs exhibited normal operating signatures. The propeller was rotated by hand and thumb compression was achieved on all four cylinders. Sparks were viewed on all of the spark plug leads when the engine was turned by hand. Oil was present in and around the engine. No anomalies were noted that would have prevented normal operation of the engine. 


Autopsies were performed on both the pilot and passenger on July 26, 2011, at the Fond du Lac County Medical Examiner’s Office, 134 Western Avenue, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin 54935. 

The cause of death for the passenger was listed as drowning with a significant factor of blunt force trauma. 

The cause of death for the pilot was listed as drowning with a significant factor of blunt force trauma to the head. An autopsy finding listed “multiple cysts to white matter of cerebral hemispheres of brain, consistent with Cysticercosis” and that no larvae were found during a microscopic examination. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states, “Cysticercosis is a parasitic tissue infection caused by larval cysts of the pork tapeworm. These larval cysts infect brain, muscle, or other tissue, and are a major cause of adult onset seizures in most low-income countries. An individual acquires Cysticercosis from ingesting eggs excreted by a person who has an intestinal tapeworm. “

The pilot’s wife was not aware that he had Cysticercosis. It is unknown if the pilot was aware of his condition. 

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The test results were negative for all substances tested. 


The occupants of the other airplane that was flying with the accident airplane made a MAYDAY call informing OSH tower that the accident had occurred. They then circled the area until they saw a boat approach the accident site at which time they returned to land at OSH. 

OSH tower contacted Milwaukee approach control to coordinate the search for the airplane. A Civil Air Patrol (CAP) airplane was in the area and heard the MAYDAY call. The Lieutenant on the CAP airplane stated they coordinated with Milwaukee approach control and proceeded to the area where the accident occurred. They descended to 2,500 feet and circled the southwest portion of Lake Winnebago. They saw the other airplane circling the lower part of the lake near the shore line. He stated that after circling a couple times, they did not see any wreckage so they headed north along the western shoreline which is where they located the wreckage at 1205 to the southwest of Warbird Island. After reporting that they located the wreckage they were informed that a rescue helicopter was en route to the site. The helicopter arrived and the CAP airplane stayed on scene until 1225. By this time the helicopter had made several trips to the shore and there were numerous boats in the area. 

The depth of the water at the accident site was approximately 6 to 7 feet. Several pleasure boats that were out on the lake responded to the area after the accident. A Winnebago County Sheriff’s Deputy who arrived at the scene was transported by a pleasure boat out to the accident site. He stated he was able to see a female victim in the airplane. He put on a life vest and entered the water in an attempt to remove the female. He stated that after he entered the water, EAA personnel from the seaplane base arrived and attempted to hold the wing up. According to the Deputy’s statement, two other people then entered the water and tried unsuccessfully to assist him in removing the occupants. 

The occupants were recovered from the wreckage by Fond du Lac Sheriff’s Department rescue divers. The divers reported the pilot was restrained in his and the back-seat passenger did not appear to be restrained with either seatbelt or shoulder harness. The passenger was floating within the airplane when they located the wreckage. 


A Garmin GPSMAP 295 was located in the cockpit of the airplane. The GPS was removed and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Division for a data download. 

The tracklog data began at 1127:53. The data showed the airplane taking off from OSH in a northerly direction. The airplane turned to the southeast and continued to climb until reaching the western shoreline of Lake Winnebago. Upon reaching the shoreline the airplane descended to a GPS altitude of 756, prior to beginning a climb. The airplane reached a GPS altitude of 1,055 feet prior to descending to an altitude of 759 feet. During this time period the calculated groundspeed varied from 59 knots to 72 knots. The airplane continued on a south-southeasterly heading prior to making a climbing left turn. During the turn, the airplane climbed to a GPS altitude of 1,339 prior to descending while still in the turn. The last GPS data point placing the airplane above the surface of the lake (748 feet, based on Google Earth imagery) was at 1144:22. This data point placed the airplane at a GPS altitude of 1,251 feet. The calculated velocity at this point was 73 knots.

The pilot of a Piper Cub that crashed into Lake Winnebago during this year’s Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture convention lost control of the airplane while attempting an aerobatic maneuver, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The pilot and passenger of a second Piper Cub that was accompanying the airplane that crashed told investigators both planes had been flying at between 1,000 and 1,400 feet of altitude on a sightseeing trip when the crash occurred at 11:45 a.m. July 25.

The witnesses told investigators the pilot of the crashed plane, Steven A. Staples, 47, of Makanda, Ill., attempted a move known as a “hammerhead.” They said Staples’ airplane pitched up, climbed, and yawed to the left, entering a descent. During the course of the maneuver, the airplane became inverted and impacted the lake.

The airplane crashed in about six feet of water offshore of Wendt’s on the Lake on U.S. Highway 45 south of Oshkosh. Neither Staples nor his passenger, Michelle Palermo, 36, of Kimberly, were able to get out of the plane.

A witness on the ground said the airplane began to sink shortly after it hit the lake. An attempt by nearby boaters to rescue Staples and Palermo was unsuccessful. Both were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.  Staples was an airline transport certified pilot.
A man and woman are dead after their small plane crashed in Lake Winnebago about 10 miles north of Fond du Lac.

Dive team members pulled two people from the yellow plane within about 45 minutes after the crash, but both were pronounced dead at the scene, said Fond du Lac County Sheriff Mick Fink.

The 1940 Piper Cub is registered to an Illinois owner.

The plane crashed about noon today about a quarter mile off the west shore near Wendt’s On the Lake, N9699 Lakeshore Drive.

According to reports on the police scanner, there were two people in the plane. Early on, a woman passenger who was unresponsive was being held above water near the plane.

At 12:38 p.m. a woman was pulled from the water by the dive team, according to scanner reports. A second person was pulled from the water about 12:47 p.m.

Robert Abraham, 90, of town of Friendship, saw the plane crash into the lake.

He said the plane was headed south when it hit the water and spun 180 degrees and ended up facing north.

The plane, Abraham said, started to sink right away. About five minutes later a fishing boat was able to make its way to the plane.

Abraham said he watched the plane through a scope, but could not see any movement after the crash.

Dive team members from the Fond du Lac and Winnebago county sheriff’s departments were called to the crash.

A decontamination area was set up about 1 p.m. for Winnebago County dive team members who encountered fuel during the rescue attempt.

A Navy helicopter was called off about 1 p.m.

First responders from Van Dyne and North Fond du Lac also are at the scene.

Upcoming Aero City project makes IGI airport vulnerable

Boasting of high-tech security gadgets, scanners, huge presence of security personnel and strict frisking at all check-in points, the country's one of the most modern airports -- Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport -- might give a sense of safety to the passengers, but the reality seemed different after a reality check.

A Headlines Today special investigation team circumvented all those layers of security and simply walked in with a camera to the point from where aircraft taking off and landing could be easily filmed.

After the completion of the Terminal 3 (T3), there has been another big project - Aero City, a mega hospitality centre - underway at the airport. The Aero City is being built adjacent to the airport terminals and well within the crucial airport security perimeter, adjoining the Delhi-Gurgaon highway.

There has been a major gap in the perimeter wall to facilitate transportation of construction material at the construction site. The gap could lead one to some highly sensitive areas within the airport premises. Moreover, no security personnel were found anywhere to secure the entry as the Headlines Today team entered the compound.

The TV crew walked into the airport premises without being checked by any security personnel. The team reached a temple and took a slip path leading to the construction site where large-scale construction was on in full swing for the upcoming 45 acre hospitality hub where more than 10 five-star hotels and malls are being constructed.

Thousands of labourers have been working day and night at these sites, dangerously close to some highly sensitive areas of the airport. The investigation discovered a route that took the Headlines Today team past the building sites, closer to some sensitive zones. The team walked towards the runway fearing a shout any moment that would put a stop to the investigation. But that did not happen.

The investigation team even managed to reach right next to the localiser wall and nobody could check it. The Headlines Today team spent about half-an-hour at the spot and no one noticed its presence right next to the runway. A terrorist in this place could have had a clear shot at a landing aircraft.

While going back towards the Aero City site, the Headlines Today team reached a spot just a few metres from the Aviation Research Centre hangar, which is used to park Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) aircraft. Here also, the team waited for around 30 minutes for somebody to notice the security breach. However, like everywhere else, there were no checks.

Plane in Ohio County, Kentucky makes emergency landing

OHIO CO, KY (WFIE) -  A man and his grandson were not hurt when their plane crashed on Sunday afternoon in Ohio County.

The sheriff's office says Joseph Floyd and his six-year-old grandson were flying from Bowling Green, Kentucky to Wisconsin when their small plane had engine trouble.

The pilot tried to make an emergency landing on the Natcher Parkway, but there was too much traffic. Deputies say instead, the plane hit the guardrail.

Both Floyd and his grandson were able to walk away with no injuries.

Van's Aircraft RV-6: Emergency runway: Bowling Green pilot lands experimental plane on Natcher Parkway.

Joe Imel/Daily News
A plane belonging to Joseph B. Floyd of Bowling Green is transported Sunday down the William H. Natcher Parkway to the Morgantown Road exit. It made an emergency landing Sunday on the Natcher Parkway in Ohio County. Floyd built the two-seat, RV-6 plane in his garage.

Joe Imel/Daily News 
A Bowling Green pilot, Joseph B. Floyd, of 670 Covington Ave., made an emergency landing Sunday afternoon on the William H. Natcher Parkway in Ohio County. Floyd, built the two-seat, RV-6 plane in his garage. The plane was pulled onto a flatbed truck and transported to Bowling Green. According to Wikipedia, the RV-6 is a two-seat, single-engine, low-wing homebuilt airplanes sold in kit form by Van's Aircraft. It was first flown in 1985. Over 2400 kits have been completed and flown.

Joe Imel/Daily News
A Bowling Green pilot, Joseph B. Floyd, of 670 Covington Ave., made an emergency landing Sunday afternoon on the William H. Natcher Parkway in Ohio County. Floyd, built the two-seat, RV-6 plane in his garage. The plane was pulled onto a flatbed truck and transported to Bowling Green. According to Wikipedia, the RV-6 is a two-seat, single-engine, low-wing homebuilt airplanes sold in kit form by Van's Aircraft. It was first flown in 1985. Over 2400 kits have been completed and flown.

A plane belonging to a Bowling Green man landed on the southbound lanes of the William H. Natcher Parkway on Sunday morning after losing power at 7,000 feet.

The plane, registered to Joseph B. Floyd of Bowling Green, landed about a mile south of the interchange with the Western Kentucky Parkway, according to Ohio County Sheriff David Thompson.

Floyd’s RV-6 kit aircraft is categorized as an amateur-built experimental plane.

Thompson said Floyd and his 6-year-old grandson were headed to Wisconsin when the engine stalled.

Thompson said Floyd tried to get the plane to the airport in Hartford, but when he realized he couldn’t make it, he decided the next best option was to try to land on the Natcher Parkway.

According to Thompson, Floyd was afraid he was going to hit a car in the northbound lane, but was able to avoid it before eventually crossing through the median and coming to a stop in the southbound lane. The highway was closed for about two hours.

There were no injuries.

“He did a great job in keeping him and his passenger very safe on the road,” Thompson said.

Thompson added that both Floyd and his grandson were both “very calm” following the landing.

“They’re very fortunate and very lucky that no one was injured.”

According to previous reports by the Daily News, Floyd finished building the plane in 2005. He built the plane in the one-car garage of his Covington Street home.

Floyd said at the time the plane cost him $48,000 to build and would fly at 175 mph.

Floyd could not be reached this morning for comment.

Clay County man injured in ultralight plane crash

NEBO, W.Va. (AP) — A Clay County man is in the hospital after his ultralight plane hit trees as he was trying to land.

State Police Sgt. K.D. Horrocks says 53-year-old Elvis Dawson of Ivydale fell about 40 to 50 feet. Dawson was taken to a Charleston hospital with injuries that weren't life threatening.

The accident occurred Sunday night on Tanner School Hollow Road in Nebo.

Horrocks says Dawson has limited flight experience.

Cessna 182, N7304S: Missing Plane's Engine, Propeller Found on Douglas Island, Alaska

JUNEAU, Alaska— Rescue crews are searching for the pilot of a small plane that crashed on Douglas Island just west of Juneau.

Parts of the wreckage, including the engine and a propeller, were discovered at the base of a 50-foot cliff near the island's Eagle Crest Peak late Sunday afternoon. Search teams had to turn back due to bad weather and rough terrain, but they expected to resume looking Monday with proper equipment to climb the cliff.

The Coast Guard plans to provide a Jayhawk helicopter to help Alaska State Troopers with the search.

The Cessna 182 was en route from Hoonah to Juneau with only the pilot on board when it disappeared Sunday morning.

Aviation Expert Ron Wilson Dies: Ron Wilson, who spent more than four decades as the spokesperson of SFO, passed away over the weekend.

Ron Wilson 

Longtime Belmont resident Ron Wilson, the spokesperson of San Francisco International Airport for 43 years and most recently an aviation consultant at ABC7, died over the weekend.

Wilson worked at SFO as the director of public affairs from June 1959 to December 2002, according to Wilson's Facebook page.

During those four decades, if you saw a news article or segment about SFO, Wilson was more than likely at the center of the story.

After he retired in 2002, Wilson worked as an aviation consultant for ABC7, where KGO News Director Kevin Keeshan said Wilson was known as "a gem of a guy who was always gracious and accommodating."

"He brought understanding to sometimes complex aviation issues and made all of us smarter with his explanation," Keeshan said in an e-mail to Belmont Patch. "He will be missed for his expertise, but even more so for his kind hearted disposition and enthusiastic love of aviation."

In an article on ABC7's website, the news agency calls Wilson "a walking encyclopedia of institutional history" and says he not only was an aviation icon but a trusted and reliable spokesperson.

The article states Wilson was almost always available to the media, even on Christmas Eve.

Wilson reportedly passed away of cancer.

French investigators to release crash report

PARIS -- French investigators will release new findings from the flight recorders of an Air France jet that crashed in the Atlantic in 2009 and was recovered after nearly two years of search efforts.

The French air accident investigation agency, the BEA, said it will release Friday a report on the crash.

It says in a statement Monday that "this report will present the exact circumstances of the accident with an initial analysis and some new findings based on the data recovered from the flight recorders."

All 228 people aboard Air France Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris died when it crashed. Investigators are still trying to determine the cause. The black box flight recorders were retrieved from the ocean floor in May.


TSA stands for 'Thieves Steal at Airports'

They were allegedly thick as thieves.

A TSA screener is suspected of teaming up with a baggage handler at Kennedy Airport to loot the luggage of at least one flier in the latest in a rash of theft allegations against metropolitan-area airport workers, The Post has learned.

JFK screener Jamel Martin, 30, was fired after allegedly filching an expensive camera from an East Hampton photographer's bag in late June.

Surveillance video and cellphone records caught him searching the bag of a 49-year-old photographer and then making a cellphone call to a baggage-handler cohort at JetBlue, sources said.

India flies second light combat helicopter prototype

India has successfully test-flown the second prototype of its indigenous high altitude Light Combat Helicopter (LCH).

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Chairman and Managing Director Ashok Nayak told India Strategic defence magazine ( in interviews at the Paris Air Show and in New Delhi that the second aircraft was a “considerable improvement” over the first prototype as HAL and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientists had been able to achieve substantial weight reduction.

“Not only that, the human and weapons payload capacity of the rotorcraft had already been exceeded than the parameters mandated by the Indian Air Force (IAF).”

Although a derivative of the advanced light helicopter (ALH) Dhruv, the LCH has been re-designed and reconfigured from the beginning to operate at the Himalayan heights of 20,000 feet. It carries two pilots, one as a weapons operator, in tandem seating. The helicopter is powered by the same Shakti engine that is used by the ALH.

The first helicopter was flown last year, for 20 minutes in the first flight, and the second June 2011-end. The combined hours that the two helicopters, prototype-1 and prototype-2, have done by now are 76.

Nayak said the second prototype was flown to a height of 10,000 feet with an all-up weight (AUW) of 4,900 kgs. The parametres successfully tested by HAL test pilots included general handling, slow speed handling, basic automatic flight control system (AFCS) checks and 60 degree bank turns.

Images of the helicopter in flight, with digitally designed camouflage paint, have been made available to India Strategic. Later, radar absorbent coating to increase its stealth features would also be added.

After the basic tests are conducted and all parameters established, the helicopter would progressively be taken to higher altitudes like Leh, Kargil and Siachin as also in the deserts of Rajasthan.

A few more prototypes and several more tests are scheduled before the LCH gets into the production line and becomes operational in about five years. The initial operational clearance (IOC) is however targeted to be achieved in 2013, Nayak said, adding that the IAF is actively involved in all stages of the aircraft testing and system approvals.

The IAF has a highly reputed Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) in Bangalore which checks and approves all kinds of aircraft. Test pilots constitute the crème-de-la-crème of any air force, and these daredevils take even the new machines to their extremes before they are put into routine flying operations.

Nayak said that the desired weight of the LCH is 5.5 tonnes. Besides the two pilots, it will have a glass cockpit, gun and rocket pods, air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles to attack and destroy hostile positions high in the mountains like the ones set up intruding Pakistani troops during the 1999 Kargil War.

Suitable applications as are found possible during the testing would be carried out to boost the lethality and survivability of the aircraft.

At present, the IAF deploys the Soviet vintage Mi-35 combat helicopters. These are being replaced with 22 newer combat helicopters, and the IAF is just about to announce its choice from two contestants, an up-rated Russian Mi-35 and the US Boeing Apache AH 64D with a new generation combat radar.

The winner is likely to be the one which, first, qualifies in the Air Staff Qualitative Requirements (ASQR) tests, and second, if both go through that, then the lower bidder in terms of initial price, operating costs and life cycle costs over 40 years.

As for operations in 20,000 feet terrain, although some helicopters built by leading foreign companies reach those heights, they are not designed to operate from there as nowhere in the world are there high altitude battlegrounds like Siachin, where helicopters are the lifeline to support the troops against foreign intrusions and attacks.

The LCH requirement is unique for India, and the IAF accordingly had projected a need for several combat helicopter squadrons to operate from the Himalayan bases. The initial requirement was given as 66 in 2006 but the numbers could well touch 100 once the production line is going in about five years.

Notably, for high altitude operations, a substantial chunk of any aircraft or helicopter has to be made of composite materials and metals like titanium to withstand exposure to extreme temperatures and environment. This makes the machine expensive but enables it operate, and that also with higher payloads from high altitude bases.