Pawan Hans helicopter debris found, both pilots still missing

Additional assets with suitable equipment are being deployed for locating the submerged debris

Mumbai: Debris from the Pawan Hans helicopter that crashed off the coast of Mumbai on Wednesday has been found. A massive search operation is still on to locate the two missing pilots. The team conducting the search operation has recovered a portion of the helicopter’s door. The 14-seater Pawan Hans Dauphin crashed around two nautical miles away from the SLQ oilrig. Rescue ship MV Samudra Sevak received an echo from the emergency locator transmitter of the helicopter 2.7 nautical miles southwest of the suspected crash site.

The helicopter had two pilots onboard and was on a night landing training mission. The cause of the crash is yet to be determined. Till late on Thursday night, the rescue and search operation was on but there was no trace of the missing pilots. Confirming this, official spokesperson of the Navy said, “The Navy has received a request from Pawan Hans for assistance in locating the submerged debris.

Additional assets with suitable equipment are being deployed for searching and locating the submerged debris. The operation will depend on the assessment of underwater structures present in the area.” At about 8 pm on Thursday the Navy launched a side-scan sonar to locate the missing pilots. A side-scan sonar is a scanning device that can scan the depths of the ocean.

Sources at Pawan Hans confirmed that the debris from the helicopter was located around 80 metres under water. Indian Coast Guard’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Mumbai is coordinating the efforts between ships and aircraft engaged in search of the two missing pilots.

Indian Coast Guard Ship Vijit along with an integrated advance light helicopter also arrived at the spot on Thursday and joined search efforts along with three Coast Guard vessels, one Dornier, three Indian Navy ships and nine support vehicles from oil platforms. Further, two survey vessels have been engaged in underwater and seabed mapping for locating the wreckage of helicopter. One diving support vessel is carrying out underwater searches.

According to the official spokesperson of the Coast Guard, as per the rules they conduct a search operation for 72 hours, which can be extended depending upon the situation.

A source from the Navy told Deccan Chronicle that the helicopter took off from Juhu airport at about 4.30 pm after which it was on night landing training. It then took off from Bombay High platform Wiss and was supposed to reach platform EE. The EE platform is unmanned and the helicopter’s first attempt at landing was unsuccessful. The helicopter crashed in its second attempt at landing.

Explaining the concept of night landing training, a source explained, “According to DGCA rules, six night landings are mandatory to those pilots who do night flying. So, on Wednesday Captain Easow Samuel was doing practicing landings and take offs in the night.”

The black box of the helicopter, which will give more information on the reason for the crash, has not been found yet. DGCA officials reached Mumbai to check documents and conduct meetings to ascertain the circumstances under which the crash occurred. Air Traffic Control center of Mumbai is also investigating how the helicopter lost contact with them.

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( Source : deccan chronicle )
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