Arunachal MP puts Pawan Hans in dock, blames poor upkeep for crash

April 21st, 2011 - 4:29 pm ICT by ANI  

By Praful Kumar Singh

New Delhi, Apr 21 (ANI): Member of Parliament Takam Sanjoy today raised a question mark over the credibility of Pawan Hans Helicopters after a 24-seater MI 172 chopper operated by the company crashed on Tuesday, and demanded that accountability be fixed for poor maintenance and mandatory inspections of the services as per DGCA rules.

The Pawan Hans Helicopter Services Limited (PHHL) has been operating five helicopters across Arunachal, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura and daily Guwahati-Tawang services for the past nine years.

Sanjoy submitted a memorandum to the Civil Aviation Ministry in this regard on Thursday, and wants the ministry to take up the matter seriously.

The ill fated chopper’s scheduled flight to Seppa was cancelled on Monday due to technical problem, and its maintenance taken up before it flew to Jorhat on a test flight and for refueling.

The next day, it left Guwahati with 18 passengers (2 minors) and five crewmembers for Tawang, and was scheduled to halt there for the night and fly back to Guwahati on Wednesday morning. But it crashed; killing 17 while 6 rescued from the burning chopper by onlookers.

Sanjoy told ANI: “It is a matter of serious concern that despite repeated requests from the Arunachal Pradesh Government, the two MI 172 helicopters operated by Pawn Hans for the state develop frequent technical snags of serious nature.”

Civil Aviation Commissioner Hage Khoda said: “Despite repeated written complaint to the Pawan Hans Chairman-cum-CMD RK Tyagi and general manager (Marketing) and in-charge of North East Sanjoy Kumar to replace the 15-year-old choppers being pressed into service in the state since 1995, the authority remained unmoved.”

Most recently on August 6, 2010, Pawan Hans helicopter (24-seater MI-172) cabin crew Dhananjoy Roy fell to his death while trying to shut the unfastened chopper door that had flung open midair when on its way from Namsai to Tezu in Arunachal Pradesh.

Sanjaoy also demanded that to stop any further accident in future and loss of lives, the Union Government should immediately start the Greenfield Airport project at Itanagar and also construct a Green Airport in Twang, which was deferred in 2008.

He added that Tawang is the most important tourist destination of the state and delay in airport project is resulting in loss of lives.

Sanjoy also blamed the defence ministry for not giving due importance to this Himalayan state despite its strategic location.

Crash history:

April 19, 2011: AIF’s MI-17, a multi-utility helicopter, blasted into flames midair 5 minutes after take-off from Tawang helipad, killing 12 defence personnel, including 3 pilots.

Aug 6, 2010: Pawan Hans helicopter (24-seater MI-172) cabin crew Dhananjoy Roy fell to his death while trying to shut the unfastened chopper door that had flung open midair when on its way from Namsai to Tezu.

June 9, 2009: Russian-made AN-32 aircraft while returning from Mechuka after an Army ration sortie crashed over Tato, killing all 13 defence personnel on board.

May 8, 2001: A Pawan Hans chopper piloted by DGM Capt VK Dhir and carrying state Education Minister Dera Natung, education secretary Sange Lhaden, union HRD ministry’s Dy secretary SK Jain and two others crashed into a high hill near Sessa in West Kameng district due to poor visibility, killing all on board.

Feb 26, 2001: IAF’s MI-8 chopper while returning from Tali after a ration sortie crashed near Ziro, killing all 6 crew members including two pilots.

Nov 14, 1997: Union MoS for defence NVN Somu and three top officials, including Maj Gen Ramesh Nagpal died when their four-seater Cheetah hit a 1300 ft peak 40 km from Tawang.

In 1989: An Antonov AN-32 on a ration sortie from Rowriah had reportedly crashed into China side without any trace of the crew members at its wreckage. (ANI)

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