Chopper fiasco: probe panel seeks time

air-india-29262Mumbai The joint committee formed under the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Dr SNA Zaidi to investigate into an aircraft narrowly missing a collision with President Pratibha Patil’s chopper has sought an extension from the ministry of civil aviation (MCA) to complete its probe.
The committee was supposed to submit its report by March 6, according to an earlier press release by the ministry.
“The DGCA has asked for some more time to complete the probe,” said a ministry spokesperson. The spokesperson also termed as incorrect some reports that the DGCA had implicated the Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots.
In the incident involving a helicopter from President Pratibha Patil’s troupe of three (one Mi17 and two Mi8), according to airport sources at the Mumbai airport, the Mi17 had landed on the airport’s main runway without obtaining any landing clearance from the air traffic control (ATC) tower. While the helicopter landed three minutes prior to its estimated time on the runway, it narrowly missed a collision with an Air India Airbus 319 that had received clearance from the airport’s traffic controllers to take off on the same runway. According to sources, IC866 was just about three seconds from reaching its take-off speed.
“The investigations are still on,” said Zaidi to The Indian Express. “Who should be blamed is the question,” said a senior airport official wishing anonymity. “Everybody knows the basic details and what went wrong that day. The facts are all recorded on tapes,” he added. According to officials, in aviation there are always safety nets built around different processes so that even if a person makes a mistake, an incident could be avoided. But in this incident almost all safety nets failed and the air traffic controller could only alert IC866 after physically watching the helicopter land on the runway. “It may be exactly this that they may be trying to nail,” said the official pointing out that “almost the entire process was flawed”.
“It is also extremely difficult to admit that a pilot who has been flying the President actually made a mistake,” said another official.

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~ by anand213 on March 10, 2009.

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