Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cessna 152, VT-EUE, Madhya Pradesh Flying Club: Accident occurred November 19, 2014 at Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport (VAID), Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India

Madhya Pradesh Flying Club, which was established in 1951, has often been in news for the wrong reasons. While Wednesday’s plane crash at Indore airport resulted in death of a pilot, another Cessna aircraft had crash landed near Indore airport last year but the pilots had escaped with minor injuries.

In June 2013, a Cessna 152 plane of the flying club crash landed in the field outside the airport after its engine failed. Fortunately, both the pilots escaped with minor injuries as the field was soggy. “The report of the DGCA probe that was ordered after the mishap is yet to be submitted,” MP Flying Club chief flight instructor Capt Mandar Mahajan told HT.

Interestingly, the aircraft that crashed on Wednesday is also a twin-seater Cessna 152. “The fact that the aircraft has a single engine increases the risk, but the plane is used in other flying clubs across India although it has been discontinued in several other countries,” an official of the flying club said.

The club was also mired in controversy in 2012 when flight operations were suspended at Indore airport for non-payment of hangar charges and at Bhopal for not having a chief flying instructor.

Another issue that had led to the flight operations coming to halt for several months at Bhopal was resignation of chief flying instructor Capt. Majid Akhtar. The CFI had resigned following allegations as to how he could instruct pilots as he himself had failed the re-current training program conducted in the US.

The club was also in news when annual grant of `10 lakh from the State government was stopped in 2001. This was resumed at Rs. 2 lakh per year in 2010. This resumption of the grant coincided with the admission of a former chief secretary’s son to the club at a concessional rate.

In 2012, the income tax department declined MP Flying Club’s contention that it should be exempted from paying taxes on the ground that it is an educational institution and its activities are charitable. The income tax department declared that the flying club was a commercial organization which is as good as coaching class that charges students for giving training for flying.

The flying club imparts flying training to students wanting to obtain commercial pilot license and private pilot license. Headquartered in Indore, the club has a fleet of nine aircraft.

One pilot died and another sustained multiple injuries when a Cessna 152 of  Madhya Pradesh Flying Club crashed on the Indore airport premises on Wednesday morning. 

The incident occurred when the pilots were carrying out a touch-and-go maneuver as part of experience building (called hour building in aviation parlance) exercise. 

The director general of civil aviation (DGCA) has ordered a probe.

Both the pilots – assistant pilot instructor Capt Pawandeep Singh Pabla (26) and commercial pilot Arshad Qureshi (28) were admitted to ICU ward of Aurobindo Hospital where Qureshi succumbed to his injuries in the evening. Both the pilots had sustained multiple injuries and were rushed to hospital in serious condition.

Confirming the death of Qureshi, Dr Saket Jatti, one of the doctors treating the injured pilot said, "We could not save him. He died in operation theatre."

"The Cessna 152A aircraft took off at 10.39 am and the pilots returned to the airport for carrying out a touch-and-go maneuver at 10.49 am. The pilots again returned to carry out the same maneuver at 10.54 am, but this time, the communication with ATC broke down. At 11.05 am, after failing to establish radio contact, the ATC sent a search and rescue team which found that the plane had crashed about 150 meters inside the boundary wall," Indore airport director in-charge Sanjay Agrawal told HT.

Talking to HT, MP Flying Club chief flight instructor Capt Mandar Mahajan said that Cessna 152A is a reliable aircraft and is used across the country. "I am not aware what went wrong but I can say that Capt Pawandeep Singh is an experienced pilot with 1,000 hours of flying experience," he said. Qureshi had also become a pilot instructor recently, flying club sources said.

In June 2013, a Cessna 152 twin-seater aircraft had crash landed outside Indore airport after its engine failed. However, the plane had landed in fields outside the airport premises and both the pilots had escaped with minor injuries.

Crash timeline

10.39 am: The two-seater Cessna 152/A aircraft takes off with assistant pilot instructor Capt Pawandeep Singh Pabla and commercial pilot Arshad Qureshi

10.49 am: The pilots return to the airport to carry out touch-and-go maneuver

10.54: The pilots return again to carry out touch-and-go maneuver, but this time, the ATC loses radio contact

11.05 am: ATC dispatches search and rescue team

11.10 am: The team found that the plane had crashed about 500 meters from the runway and both the pilots had sustained multiple injuries

11.15 am: Pilots rushed to hospital in airport ambulance.

Directions guide

Main terminal building – North side

Crash site: 150 metres inside boundary wall and 500 metres away from runway south-east of main terminal building.

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