Sanjoy takes on civil aviation authorities over Tawang chopper crash

April 22nd, 2011 - 8:41 pm ICT by ANI  

Tawang, Apr 22(ANI): Congress leader Takam Sanjoy on Friday took Civil Aviation authorities head on over airworthiness of its ‘Pawan Hans’ fleet.

It comes three days after 17 innocent lives were lost in a MI-17 helicopter crash in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang district.

The helicopter had caught fire as it was preparing to land and crashed into a gorge.

“The Pawan Hans authority whimsically performs its duties. The authority itself has to take the responsibility of this (entire) crisis. We have not talked much in this earlier, but when series of accidents are taking place, when doors open mid air, when a helicopter catches fire in the air, it is a question on the credibility of the organization along with its administrative set up,” said Sanjoy.

Sanjoy, a Member of Parliament from the Arunachal West constituency of Arunachal Pradesh, has already submitted a memorandum to the Civil Aviation Ministry, and wants the ministry to take up the matter seriously.

He also threatened that the outcry over such decision would not remain till the boundaries of a particular state, but will reach the Parliament in New Delhi.

“Mechanical failure, computer has gone down (stopped working), all these are not an excuse to settle the lives of 17 people. Some families are wiped out and after the enquiry whom should we fix the responsibility? State government will naturally say the Pawan Hans is not absolutely doing or performing well. This is not a case in Arunachal Pradesh. It is going to come in a big way in the Parliament,” Sanjoy said.

Countering Sanjoy’s viewpoint, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) chief Bharat Bhushan said that it is the government’s decision to continue with the Pawan Hans, but noted that the chopper had the certificate to continue with its functions.

“It is basically a question of commercial contract between the government, which has selected Pawan Hans as far as I know through a bidding process. So, that is between the principal and the contract. So, fundamentally if there are differences, they are wise enough to thrash it out. But in terms of the functionality of the aircraft, that is what I said, the helicopter had a valid certificate of air workings,” Bhushan said.

Noting his interaction with Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu, the DGCA chief further said that a committee of enquiry would be set up under aircraft rules.

“He is conducting the enquiry. The data recorder will be sent to Bombay for analysis. We hope to get the results very quickly. Apart from that the government is also considering appointment of a committee of enquiry under the relevant rules of the aircraft rules. So, these are the steps, which we have taken. I have also had occasion to discuss with the honorable Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh in Tawang,” Bhushan said.

Meanwhile, supporting the stance on the working condition of the chopper, a Pawan Hans spokesperson said that all the helicopters are in ‘fully serviceable’ condition.

“I would like to say that our all helicopters are fully airworthy, fully serviceable, certified by regulatory authority of India, that is the DGCA. Our pilots are well qualified and well experienced,” the spokesperson said.

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, including two minors, and five crewmembers for Tawang, and was scheduled to halt there for the night and fly back to Guwahati next day.

The plane crashed killing 17 persons on board while onlookers rescued remaining six from the burning chopper. All passengers were Indian tourists.

Among the survivors, four were seriously injured.

The arrival of the flight from Arunachal Pradesh was delayed since the special helicopter provided by the Arunachal Pradesh government could not take off from Tawang due to inclement weather.

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. (ANI)

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