Pilot error led to General Rawat's chopper crash, inquiry finds
The chopper crash that led to the death of Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and others in December 2021 occurred due to a pilot error, according to the initial findings of the inquiry team. The Indian Air Force (IAF) Court of Inquiry has ruled out mechanical failure, sabotage, and negligence as potential causes of the incident.
Why does this story matter?
- The findings are significant as the tragic crash grabbed headlines around the world and raised questions about the circumstances that led to the accident.
- The Mi-17V5 helicopter, carrying General Rawat, his wife Madhulika, and 12 others, had crashed in Tamil Nadu on December 8, 2021.
- IAF Group Captain Varun Singh had survived the crash but died of severe burn injuries after a few days.
'Unexpected change in weather conditions'
"The accident was a result of entry into clouds due to an unexpected change in weather conditions in the valley. This led to spatial disorientation of the pilot resulting in a Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT)," the Court of Inquiry said.
What is CFIT?
The investigating team arrived at the conclusions after analyzing the Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder. Officials also questioned all the available witnesses as part of the probe. Notably, CFIT is a situation where an airworthy aircraft is under complete control of the pilot. However, due to disorientation, the aircraft inadvertently hits a surface or an obstacle.
Probe team makes recommendations
The tri-services Court of Inquiry is led by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, the Air Force's seniormost helicopter pilot. The probe team has made several recommendations "that are being reviewed," according to a statement. On December 8, 2021, General Rawat was on his way to deliver a lecture at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington. A new CDS is yet to be appointed.