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Cloud ‘disoriented’ CDS Gen Bipin Rawat’s copter pilots: Report

New Delhi, January 14

The Court of Inquiry into the Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter crash, which killed Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and 13 others, has said that “disorientation” of the pilots caused by an unexpected cloud is the cause of the crash.

It has ruled out mechanical failure, sabotage or negligence as the cause of accident, an IAF statement said on Friday. The Court of Inquiry has submitted its preliminary findings, the IAF said.

“The accident was the result of entry into clouds due to unexpected change in weather in the valley. This led to spatial disorientation of the pilot, resulting in controlled flight into terrain (CFIT),” it said.

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CFIT is term used when an aircraft crashes into the ground due to disorientation of the crew and not a technical glitch. It is noted as a common reason for crashes during bad weather in mountainous regions. A Russian-built Mi-17V5 copter carrying the CDS, his wife Madhulika and his military attache Brig LS Lidder among others crashed on December 8 near Wellington in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu.

Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Training Command, who headed the tri-service inquiry into the crash, analysed the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, besides questioning all available witnesses to determine the most probable cause of the accident.

The recommendations made by the Court of Inquiry were being reviewed, the Indian Air Force said.

Meanwhile, as reported by The Tribune in its December 10 edition, there was no distress call by the pilots and they had told the air traffic controller (ATC) about descending to land at Wellington.

Coonoor crash

The accident was the result of entry into clouds due to unexpected change in weather in the valley. This led to spatial disorientation of the pilot, resulting in controlled flight into terrain. — IAF statement

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