Sunday, December 25, 2016

Robinson R44 Astro, Aman Aviation, VT-PHB: Fatal accident occurred December 11, 2016 in Mumbai, India

Delay in relief? Chopper crash report may take a year

MUMBAI: Two weeks after a helicopter joyride ended in a crash, claiming the lives of the pilot and a Borivli couple, Aarey police are yet to file a case as they are awaiting the final probe report from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Police have only made a diary entry of the incident.

But, in all likelihood, the report is likely to take at least a year and hence, compensation to the deceased couple's family, including his two-year-old son, may be delayed.

On December 11, the helicopter, owned by Aman Aviation and Aerospace Solutions Pvt Ltd, crashed in Aarey Colony within four minutes of takeoff. The pilot died before reaching hospital. Borivli resident Ritesh died two days later and his wife Brinda on Saturday.

"The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau, that is probing the crash, could submit the report within a year, but there have also been instances of the report not being published even after four-five years. But in this case, I don't think there would be that kind of delay," said a senior DGCA officer. "Even the aircraft operator is awaiting the report to seek insurance."

This is not a one-off case of DGCA probe report delay. The Sahar police are yet to file an FIR in the case of Air India aircraft technician, Ravi Subramanian, being sucked into the engine of an aircraft at city airport. The incident took place in December 2015, but police are still awaiting the DGCA report.

According to International Civil Aviation Organization Annex 13, which lays down guidelines for aircraft accident probe, a preliminary report should be ready within 30 days of the accident and final report within a year. But these norms don't apply to light aircraft, such as the Robinson 44 that was involved in the December 11 crash. "Being a light aircraft, the helicopter didn't have a cockpit voice recorder or a digital flight data recorder. But an aircraft technician survived the crash, that should help with the probe," said a helicopter pilot.

On Sunday, as Modis' family members were preparing for Brinda's prayer meeting on Monday, they expressed concern about the lack of response from any governmental agency as insurance payoffs that would help the deceased couple's two-year-old son will not be available till the paperwork is done. "But our greatest worry is that the company is still offering helicopter joyrides," said a relative. "How is the firm allowed to operate aircraft without a check?"

While officials from Aman Aviation refused comment, an airport official said, on December 18, the firm operated a flight with a Robinson 44 helicopter with three passengers on board. "The aircraft took off from Juhu airport, overflew Esselworld and returned," said the official. It also operated a few test flights. "An aircraft operator is asked to stop operations only if investigations reveal that the accident was caused because of a deficiency or shortfall on its part," said an expert.


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