Ghatkopar plane crash: Aircraft was on first test flight after repairs

Jun 29, 2018, 17:40 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

Eight-seater charter King C90 had earlier belonged to the UP govt and had been bought by UY Aviation following an accident

Ghatkopar plane crash: Aircraft was on first test flight after repairs
An official conducts puja of the repaired plane before the test flight on Thursday

The eight-seater charter King C90 was on its first airworthiness test profile when it suddenly developed a major technical snag and crashed at an under-construction building in Ghatkopar West on Thursday afternoon. The aircraft was owned by the UP government and after it was involved in an accident some time ago, it was bought by UY Aviation (Pvt) Ltd, a three-year-old company, which rents out aircraft to ferry patients from all over the country, an insider told mid-day. The company had got the King C90 repaired by Indamer Aviation Private Ltd and, on Thursday, it was being taken on its first test flight.

"Around 1.08 pm, the ATC towers at Mumbai and Juhu both lost contact with the pilot and suddenly an SOS alert was sent out by the Air Traffic Control. Finally, it was learnt that the plane had crashed," said Juhu Aerodrome Director Ashok Kumar Verma. Verma said the aircraft took off from the Juhu runway a little after 12.20 pm as per ATC Juhu records. Pilot, Captain Pradeep Rajput, and co-pilot, Maria Zuberi (who had joined UY Aviation barely a month ago), were in constant touch with the Juhu ATC and later with the Mumbai main ATC as it passed through their radar. The charter was barely a mile from Juhu aerodrome, on its way back after completing the test flight, when it crashed. When asked if the aircraft was on a wrong flying line, as usually passenger flights pass through the airway used by the charter, Verma replied in the negative, stating that there was no air space violation and that the charter was on its own scheduled air space."

The investigating team from the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) will be recording the statements of the ATC officers who were in dialogue with the pilots of the charter, which will be compared with the black box that has been recovered. Speaking to mid-day soon after landing in Mumbai from Delhi on Thursday evening, Captain Vinod MRSK, a former air force pilot, who is the Chief of Flight Safety at UY Aviation (Pvt) Ltd, clarified that the charter was still with Indamer Aviation Private Ltd (an aviation repair and maintenance organisation), and two of their engineers Manish Pandey and Surbhi, along with Rajput and Zuberi were to conduct the airworthiness test profile and had obtained necessary permissions from DGCA.

"The air profile testing was crucial as only then could UY Aviation have approached DGCA to complete other formalities to officially take the charter into its inventory. The charter was flying on a Non-Scheduled Operator's Permit (NSOP) for testing. At present UY Aviation has four charters, two in Mumbai and two in Delhi, and this eight-seater King C90, would have made it to its inventory in Mumbai," the insider said. Captain Vinod said, "I am here to assist Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) team under DGCA to understand the circumstances under which the accident happened. It is learnt that the crew was insured."

Also Read: Ghatkopar plane crash: Pilot's presence of mind saves hundreds

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