Pawan Hans crash: Black box will be opened only next month

A team from Eurocopter, the helicopter manufacturer in France, will arrive in India next month to read the data

Twenty-two days after a Pawan Hans helicopter crashed into the Arabian Sea near Bombay High, the black box of the Dauphin aircraft that was taken to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) headquarters in Delhi remains untouched.

Also Read: Pawan Hans crash: Flesh found in wreckage to be matched against DNA of missing pilot's daughter

The wreckage of the Pawan Hans helicopter that crashed on November 4
The wreckage of the Pawan Hans helicopter that crashed on November 4

The black box will now be read by a team from Eurocopter, the manufacturer of the helicopter, in the first week of December. Senior DGCA officials confirmed that the black box — which was initially to be decoded by the DGCA — is waiting be opened and read by the helicopter manufacturer’s team. This comes after the authorities noticed that the damage to the black box was major.

Read Story: Pawan Hans disaster: 'Safety lapses killed pilot'

“The manufacturer was supposed to be present in Delhi a few days after the wreckage was located, but their arrival was reportedly delayed due to the Paris attacks,” said a senior DGCA official. However, speaking to mid-day, an official from the French Embassy said, “There has been a general precautionary advisory issued to people travelling worldwide, and it’s not specific to any country.”

Investigation on hold
Sources said that Pawan Hans and DGCA are now waiting for the team to arrive from France before taking any further step in the investigation. Senior officials from DGCA have also revealed that the families of both onboard pilots have shown interest in reading the transcript of the black box. However, the aviation regulator has taken no decision in this matter.

“The team is to arrive on December 6, after which the black box will be read and the reason behind the chopper crash will be known. The team will also inspect and analyse the wreckage that is being studied by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB),” added a Pawan Hans official.

Also Read: Pawan Hans chopper crashes into sea off Mumbai coast, two pilots missing

The Pawan Hans Pilots Guild has also been waiting for the black box to be decoded. A guild official said, “It has been a long wait for the investigations to be continued, and the most important step will be reading the black box. This will bring clarity as to what caused the crash and what was the difficulty faced by the pilots.”

Expert speak
Aviation expert Dr Vipul Saxena explained, “Usually DGCA is well qualified and equipped to read the Flight Data Recorder (FDR). But if the FDR has gone through prolonged exposure to high temperature, water or liquid with high salinity or acidity or any other extreme weather conditions causing possible damage, it is sent to the manufacturer.” He added, “This is done because collection of evidence is of paramount importance to the investigation and subsequent corrective measures for improved flight safety.”

The story so far...
A 14-seater Pawan Hans helicopter crashed around 7.30 pm on November 4 with two pilots on board. While Captain T K Guha’s body was located along with the wreckage five days after the crash, Captain E Samuel’s remains continue to be missing. While studying the wreckage, the AAIB had located a piece of flesh and a clump of hair that have been sent to the Kalina forensic laboratory to check if it is human flesh. Captain Samuel’s daughter’s blood sample has also been taken for verification.

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