The Indian Air Force on Wednesday apprised Defence Minister Rajnath Singh about the findings of the tri-services investigation into the December 8 chopper crash that killed CDS Gen Bipin Rawat and 13 others. The probe team has already completed its investigation into the crash of the Russian-origin Mi-17V5 helicopter.
The findings suggest that bad weather was the main reason behind the chopper crash. Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika and 12 other armed forces personnel were aboard the helicopter that was on its way to Wellington from Sulur.
According to the probe team, Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan who was the pilot of the Mi-17V5 chopper, just 8 minutes before the crash said that he was landing the helicopter. He was piloting the helicopter at a low level. Around 500-600 metre above the surface, a thick layer of cloud shrouded the helicopter, lowering the visibility.
The report said that Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan was piloting the helicopter by following the railway line and was scheduled to land at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington where General Rawat had to deliver a lecture. The last communication was recorded 8 minutes before the crash.
The probe report has ruled out the possibility of any sabotage as probable cause of the chopper crash, sources said.
It is learnt that the probe team examined all likely scenarios for the crash, including possible human error or whether it was a case of disorientation of crew when the helicopter was preparing for landing. Air Marshal Singh, currently heading the Bengaluru-headquartered Training Command of the IAF, is known to be one of the best air crash investigators in the country.
Before taking the reins of the Training Command, the Air Marshal was the Director General (Inspection and Safety) at the Air headquarters and developed various protocols for flight safety while serving in the post.