“The Tri-Services Court of Inquiry into the Mi-17 V5 accident on 08 Dec 21 has submitted its preliminary findings. The inquiry team analysed the Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder besides questioning all available witnesses to determine the most probable cause of the accident. The Court of Inquiry has ruled out mechanical failure, sabotage or negligence as a cause of the accident,” the statement by the IAF read.
“The accident was a result of entry into clouds due to unexpected change in weather conditions in the valley. This led to spatial disorientation of the pilot resulting in Controlled Flight into Terrain. Based on its findings, the Court of Inquiry has made certain recommendations which are being reviewed,” the IAF statement added. According to US aviation regulator FAA, CFIT is defined as an unintentional collision with terrain — the ground, a mountain, a body of water, or an obstacle — while an aircraft is under positive control.
On December 8, an Indian Air Force helicopter carrying Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 12 others crashed in the Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu. The Mi-17V5 chopper had taken off from the Sulur IAF Station in Coimbatore and the Chief of Defence Staff was on his way to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington. However, the helicopter crashed onto a steep slope in Katteri Park in Nanjappanchathiram area. Both official rescue personnel and locals had rushed to the spot attempting to save any survivors. The difficult terrain and the blazing fire caused by the crash had complicated rescue operations further.
The CDS and his wife were among the 13 people declared dead in the crash. The lone survivor of the crash, Group Captain Varun Singh, was shifted to Bengaluru for further treatment, but he succumbed to injuries a few days later. Besides General Rawat, his wife, and Group Captain Varun Singh, the others killed in the accident included Brigadier Lidder, Lt Col Harjinder Singh, Wing Commander PS Chauhan, Squadron Leader K Singh, JWO Das, JWO Pradeep A, Havildar Satpal, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitender Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar and Lance Naik Sai Teja.
Shortly after the tragedy, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had informed Parliament that a tri-services inquiry team led by Air Marshal Manavendra Singh will probe into the helicopter crash.