Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Helicopter crashes

In India helicopter crashes are more than passenger plane crashes. Many people have died in helicopter crashes including G. M. C. Balayogi, Madhavrao Scindia, Y. S. R. Reddy and Dorjee Khandu. In April 2011 there were two helicopter crashes in Arunachal Pradesh. In both cases helicopters belonged to Pawan Hans and Tawang featured in the flights. The crashes can be due to various reasons. The helicopter could be old and not fit for flying. The pilot does not have sufficient experience. Bad weather and poor visibility make flying difficult.

It seems there is no check on airworthiness of helicopters. Either DGCA does not do its job or the owners of helicopters continue the use of unfit helicopters without the knowledge of DGCA.

In recent days corruption in DGCA is exposed. Many people become pilots by submitting fake certificates. They are promoted without sufficient number of flying hours. During difficult situations their inexperience can make the difference between life and death.

It is said that in case of bad weather and poor visibility it is for the pilot to decide to fly or not. Y. S. R. Reddy was chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. Dorjee Khandu was chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh. When a politician is a passenger he may ask the pilot to fly irrespective of bad weather and poor visibility. Many politicians have tight schedules, they do not want to miss any meeting and they do not want to take no for an answer. How many pilots resist orders in such cases is not known. The right thing for the pilot is not to start the flight or once in flight if the problem crops up to return to base or land safely wherever possible and tell the politician “You may not value your life but I value my life.” Passenger planes have black boxes. What goes wrong can be found out later. It is good to have black boxes in helicopters.

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