Blame Game over Raipur CG Govt Owned Chopper Crash Begins

Story Highlights
  • The AustaWestland Chopper faced ire for years.
  • The helicopter was procured by the Raman Singh Govt in 2007.
  • Two pilots died in the chopper crash on Thursday night in Raipur.

Raipur: On preliminary investigation by the DGCA and State Government it was revealed that the AugtaWestland helicopter that crashed on Thursday night suffered technical problems earlier in the past. The twin-engine ‘AW 109 power elite helicopter was used to ferry VIPs including the CMs was embroiled in controversy after the then Raman Singh Govt in 2007 faced allegations on its procurement.

After coming to power the Congress administration used the chopper on several occasions. They, however, borrowed another helicopter for the current tour of his constituencies.

Two pilots Captain GK Panda and training expert AK Shrivastava succumbed to injuries en route hospital in a crash that occurred on Thursday night at the Swami Vivekananda Airport when the state government’s senior pilot Captain Gopal Krishna Panda was on a night practice sortie with Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) examiner Captain A P Shrivastava, who had arrived from Delhi. Both Panda and Shrivastava were killed.

On Friday, even as a DGCA team landed in Raipur to probe the accident, Congress spokesperson Sushil Anand Shukla pointed out that the helicopter had faced technical glitches when former Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh used it, forcing him to make emergency landings. In 2016 too, the chopper had to make an emergency landing when it was ferrying former minister Brijmohan Agrawal, he added.

Meanwhile, a five-member DGCA team comprising four assistant directors and a senior flight operations instructor arrived late Friday to conduct a probe. Prima facie, the tail rotor of the chopper seems to have malfunctioned, causing the crash, sources said.

The bodies of both the pilots were handed over to their families on Friday. Captain Panda, a native of Sambalpur in Odisha, was cremated in Raipur. He had been serving in the state since 2011 and had planned on settling down in the state after retirement, his friends said. He was a former Air Force Wing Commander.

Captain Shrivastava’s body was flown back to Delhi. A senior expert in night-time flying, he was related to politician Adarsh Shastri, grandson of late Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri.

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