Mumbai: ATC officer who handled ill-fated Aarey chopper sent for counselling

Updated: Dec 15, 2016, 13:21 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

The two-member team from the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau collected the sealed copy of the recorded conversation between the on-duty officer at Juhu ATC and the pilot of helicopter that crashed on Sunday, sources told mid-day

The two-member team from the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau collected the sealed copy of the recorded conversation between the on-duty officer at Juhu ATC and the pilot of helicopter that crashed on Sunday, sources told mid-day. The officer’s quick-thinking helped the rescue teams reach the accident spot within minutes of the crash.

The chopper crashed at Filterpada in Aarey Colony on Sunday. File pic
The chopper crashed at Filterpada in Aarey Colony on Sunday. File pic

Senior Airport Authority of India officials (AAI) have appreciated the presence of mind of the ATC officer, whose timely decision to divert another helicopter to the location of disappearance helped confirm the crash landing within few minutes.

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“Unlike a regular day, on Sunday the flow of air traffic at Juhu aerodrome was comparatively very low,’ said an AAI official.

“For the officer, this was a first a distress alert from a pilot who was crash landing his helicopter. Her superiors have already put her on a counseling session. She has handled herself well psychologically and has given her statement to the inquiry team.”

The official said the helicopter was heading north towards Powai Lake when the SOS message came to the ATC.

Dr Sanjay Kumavat, a practicing psychiatrist, said, ‘The officer might go into post traumatic stress disorder as such episodes are bound to have psychological impact.”

Clutch failure?
A senior Pilot from Rotary Wing Society of India said, “It is still unclear if the clutch failure actually led to the crash landing. In this case, it is learnt that the helicopter was in forward speed motion, when it crash landed, which is not usually seen in auto rotation landing.

Read Story: Aarey crash: Chopper engine to be sent to Delhi to pinpoint crash cause

“The function of the clutch comes once the helicopter engine is switched on. Even if the engine fails mid air, the blade continues to turn by itself, as the helicopter continues to come downwards and the router blades get into auto rotation mode due to the potential energy getting converted to kinetic energy and the helicopter can still land safely.”

The pilot added that a clear picture of the accident will emerge only after the inquiry report is out.

Owner speaks
Rajendra N Johri, Chairman and Managing Director, Aman Aviation and Aerospace Solution Pvt Ltd, told mid-day that pilot Praful Mishra had already done one sortie with three passengers around 11.30 am.

“He flew Juhu-Vihar-Powai and returned to the base in 15 minutes,” said Johri.

“The pilot did not complain of any problem or technical glitch and took the second trip around 11.52 am.”

Five different agencies probing the accident have gone through all the maintenance and other log books and only the technical investigation need to get completed, which usually should be done within few weeks time, Johri said.

SOS to ATC

11.52 am
Pilot: Ready to start
ATC: Start up given
Pilot: Ready for departure
ATC: Clear for take off

11.57 am
Pilot: We are going for a forced landing due to clutch failure
ATC: Roger

(ATC Juhu keeps trying to raise the pilot Mishra, but gets no response. At the same time three to four helicopters are in air close to the spot. The ATC official contacts a Pawan Hans helicopter, which is returning from Mumbai High and requests the pilot to go to the spot. After the Pawan Hans pilot spots the crashed chopper in flames, the ATC officer alerts the police and fire brigade with the exact location.)

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