Mumbai: An investigation by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board into the September 2013 helicopter crash in Tukawade, Thane, which killed all five on board, has revealed the accident was caused due to the pilot continuing the flight in very poor visibility conditions with insufficient ground clearance and hitting a hill due to spatial disorientation.The report, prepared in 2014 but made public only earlier this week, also mentions that non-functioning of the weather radar and non-familiarity of the pilot with the terrain along with lack of valid training on the specific type of helicopter, contributed to the accident.A three-member committee headed by R S Passi as chairman, Captain V M Satish Koikal and K Chandra Shekhar as members, investigated the crash. The helicopter, belonging to United Helicharters, was flying from Juhu to Aurangabad when it crashed on September 29, 2013. The deceased included Captain Surendra Bhadoria, co-pilot Alan Martin, additional pilot Anshu Matha, engineer Yatin Wakade and technician Dean D’Souza.The report said that from the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) transcript, it was clear the crew experienced poor visibility right from the beginning. “The pilot was not familiar with the terrain. The radar was unserviceable. The flight was continued in poor visibility and without adequate terrain clearance. The pilot tried to maintain ground contact, resulting in not having safe ground clearance,” the report read.The report also mentions the early take-off of the helicopter from Juhu had been necessitated by refusal of Aurangabad air traffic controllers to extend watch hours (duty timings) in the morning, thereby indirectly contributing to the accident. The committee also said it appeared that the pilot was under mental compulsion to complete the flight as there was not much flying by the company in the recent past and fulfilling the flying contract from Nagpur for 30 days was important from the commercial point of view.“No action was taken by the crew as per the existing instructions or procedures. The crew did not review the situation, nor did they abandon further flight due to the weather situation. As seen from the CVR readout they were encountering clouds almost from the beginning, the crew displayed undue eagerness to press ahead with the flight as per the flight plan in VFR despite poor visibility. At a distance of 85 kms from Mumbai, the pilot decided to fly on instruments,” the report revealed.
Senior Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and MP Abhishek Banerjee on Wednesday set a target of winning 250 plus seats in the next Legislative Assembly poll. Abhishek, who heads the youth wing of the TMC and is nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, said the BJP’s thinking of winning Bengal has no basis.“In the next assembly poll in 2021, we should fight to win 250 plus seats in the state. The BJP thinks it can win Bengal. But they are wrong. If our party supremo Mamata Banerjee permits, we would score 10 goals against BJP everyday and they won’t stand a chance against us,” Mr. Abhishek said while addressing TMC’s students wing-Trinamool Chatra Parishad- foundation day rally here. The total strength of the West Bengal assembly is 294. They (BJP) has emptied the coffers of central government and RBI and are lecturing others on financial issues, he said. While referring to Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s decision to give Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the Centre, Abhishek said the reserve money of the central bank has also been exhausted due to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. BJP’s West Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh, while reacting to Abhishek’s claim, said he is living in fool’s paradise.“He is living in fool’s paradise if he thinks that TMC will win 250 seats. The TMC would find it tough to get even 30 seats and acquire main opposition party status,” Ghosh said. The BJP, in the general election this year, bagged 18 of the 42 seats in the state, four less than the ruling TMC.The TMC’s tally came down from 34 in 2014 to 22 seats. In the last few years, the saffron party has made deep inroads in Bengal and emerged as the main challenger to the ruling TMC by pushing the Congress and the Left Front to distant third and fourth positions respectively. It’s leaders are now asserting that their next target was to unseat Mamata Banerjee in the 2021 assembly elections.