A door panel of the chopper was first spotted 80 nautical miles from Bombay High, following which the Coast Guard zeroed in on rest of debris 70-metres below
A day after a Pawan Hans chopper crashed into the Arabian Sea on Wednesday evening, off Bombay High, efforts are on to retrieve its remains and locate its pilot E Samuel (60) and co-pilot T K Guha (45).
Pilot E Samuel (left) and co-pilot T K Guha
A Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) team visited the crash site yesterday and will be revisiting it today as well. An official close to the case explained, “A footage of the chopper approaching the platform was viewed by the DGCA team, but it is yet to divulge details.”
At the time of copy going to the press, it was learnt that MSV Samudra Sevak had picked up an echo emitted by an Emergency Locator Transmitter (EMT), some 2.7 nautical miles south-west of the suspected crash site. As a result, ICGS Vijit has requested to divert vessel Fugro Mapper for a sonar scan of the area from where the echo was picked up.
An official from the Pawan Hans said the 14-seater Dauphin aircraft, of 2011-make, went missing within 10 minutes after it took off from the WSI platform at 7.12 pm. The chopper was supposed to land at the ROM TOP Mayor (RYTYR) platform. Both the platforms belong to the ONGC.
The pilot and the co-pilot were practicing a routine night landing, mandatory as per the DGCA guidelines. Sources from the Coast Guard officer added that while the Navy and the Coast Guard jointly initiated the search and rescue operation, it was the latter who first spotted the debris — a door panel — floating in the sea around 10 pm. The door panel was spotted 80 nautical miles off Bombay High.
By 11 pm, the Coast Guard zeroed in on the chopper’s exact location 70-metres below. Rubbishing a few crash-related rumours that were making the rounds following the mishap, Sanjay Kumar, general manager (Western Region) of Pawan Hans said, “There have been a few hearsays about the incident, which are baseless.
There has been no mid-air collision with the sortie. Details will come forth only after the recovery of the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVD) i.e. the black box.”
Speaking to mid-day, Samuel’s wife Anitha said, “He has been flying since 1972. He is supposed to retire in December. His colleagues had organised a farewell party just two days ago. We are all waiting for positive news.”
She added that Samuel initially had a Fixed Wing Licence, which he later got converted in to a helicopter licence. He worked as a flight instructor at Chennai Flying Club, where he trained several Air India pilots. He also has a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPPL number 247, one of the oldest licences).
The Samuels have been residing on the third floor of the D1 wing at Pawan Hans quarters, Daulatnagar, Santacruz, since 1986. The couple has two daughters. While the youngest, Shaumya, has been with Anitha since the news of the crash broke, the elder daughter, Shneha, was supposed to join them last night. Shneha lives in the US with her husband.
In his statement, Defence CPRO Rahul Sinha stated: “A Pawan Hans helicopter crashed at around 80 nautical miles, west north west of south Mumbai at about 7:30 pm [Wednesday]. Navy launched search and rescue ops and two Immediate Support Vessels (ISVS T50 and T48) reached the area.
One destroyer, INS Mumbai with integral helicopter will reach the area post midnight. There were no passengers on board. Indian Coast Guard Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), Mumbai, is coordinating the efforts between ships and aircraft engaged in search of two missing pilots of the crashed Pawan Hans Helicopter.
Advisory regarding the accident has been issued to all ships. ICGS Vijit and Advance Light Helicopter also arrived in area today [Thursday] and joined search efforts with ICGS Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, ICGS Achook, one ICG Dornier, three vessels of Indian Navy and 9 Support Vessels from Oil Platforms 9ONGC).
Two survey vessels are engaged in underwater and seabed mapping for locating the wreckage of helicopter. A diving support vessel is carrying out underwater search. ”
>> Joined Pawan Hans in 1986
>> 20,000 hrs of flying experience
>> Former flight instructor
T K Guha
>> Joined Pawan Hans in 2011
>> 5,000 hrs of flying experience
>> Retired Army colonel