Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Mumbai helicopter crash: Aviation firm says chopper was in ‘perfect condition’ for use

The charter flight operator claims the helicopter was ‘certainly airworthy’.

Written by Neha Kulkarni | Mumbai |
December 14, 2016 2:45:51 am
Mumbai, helicopter crash, mumbai helicopter crash, aarey colony helicopter crash, pilot dead, mumbai crash, crash, sanjeev shankar, news, latest news, goregaon crash, goregaon helicopter crash, indian express news, india news, mumbai news A view of a wreckage of a helicopter which crashed injuring three in Arey colony in Mumbai on Sunday. PTI Photo

AN ADDITIONAL 19 hours of certified flying time was left for the Robinson R44 Astro chopper before its next maintenance check, said representatives of Aman Aviation and Aerospace Solutions, the company which owned the helicopter that crashed on the hilly slopes of Aarey colony in Goregaon on Sunday.

The charter flight operator claims the helicopter was ‘certainly airworthy’.

Pilot Prafulla Mishra (57) and passenger Ritesh Modi lost their lives in the crash. The other two passengers were injured. Though a ‘clutch failure’ was identified as the primary reason behind the crash, Aman Aviation officials have claimed that the chopper was in perfect condition for use.

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“The failure was certainly not caused due to any absence of maintenance check or renewal of any part. All records of the chopper have been checked, and it was found to have an additional 19 hours of flight left before the next check. This means it was in perfect condition for use for the Sunday ride,” said Rajendra Johri, Chairman and Managing Director (MD), Aman Aviation.

The officials have also claimed that the clutch was in proper working condition as it still had another 800 hours of flying before it needed to be checked.

“The initial flight in the chopper reported no fault with the clutch, engine or the overall experience. If a clutch defect would have been detected then, the pilot would have refrained from using the chopper again. As far as the maintenance of the chopper is concerned, there was no deficiency,” an official with Aman Aviation said.

Before beginning flight operations for the day, every operator does a pre-flight check, which lasts for five minutes. If the next flight of the chopper is on an immediate basis, a cursory check of the parts and the chopper is done, which does not take much time, officials said.

“In this case, the next joyride was immediately after the first one was completed. Mishra would have done a routine check of the parts. He was an experienced pilot and moreover, had flown the R44 model chopper for quite a long time,” the official added.

Two Robinson R44 models were bought by Aman Aviation group from Pawan Hans in 2009 at a low cost, out of which only one remains in use.

“The R44 chopper model, though old, is a sturdy one and has no average life as such. It is one of the strongest aircraft, and can be used for a long time if provided proper maintenance,” Johri said.

Representatives also claimed that unlike other choppers, the model is very well suited for joyrides, considering its glass capsule that allows a wider view of the ground for passengers. The firm said they had been in the heli-tourism business for four years, and there has never been any complaint from visitors.

“We almost introduced the concept of heli-tourism for people in Mumbai. Buying the chopper at a cheaper price meant affordable rates for the users. We are cooperating with the agencies in the investigation at present, after which a final business expansion plan through this one chopper or more can be finalised,” Johri said.

Meanwhile, a two-member team from Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) continued its probe on Tuesday by gathering evidence from the crash site and the airport.

“A committee will be formed to check for the reason of the crash by matching all the evidence collected,” an AAIB official said. A preliminary report on the crash is expected in 30 days.

“Implementation of strict safety measures must remain the aim of all aircraft operators. They must be sensitive in implementing every safety measure that can ensure a pleasant and safe experience for the passengers,” said M K Bimal, airport director, Juhu airport.

Aman Aviation has confirmed that it will resume its joyride services from December 15. Meanwhile, IRCTC — the joyride partner with Aman — will refund the ticket fare for the Modis, and also for those who took a ride before them Sunday.

neha.kulkarni@expressindia.com
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