Punjab chopper crashes at airport

Punjab chopper crashes at airport

Express News Service Posted online: Fri Dec 17 2010, 01:19 hrs
Chandigarh : Both pilots safe

A state government helicopter on lease from Pawan Hans crashed at the Chandigarh airport on Thursday morning. Both pilots — MS Brar and SPS Brar — escaped unhurt and are now under observation at the Command Hospital in Chandimandir.

The seven-seater Dauphin N3 was on lease for the last few years and the government was paying Rs 15 core a year to Pawan Hans.
Airport officials said the craft developed a snag soon after take-off and lost height. It rolled a few times after hitting the ground and came to a halt a few metres from the terminal. A broken rotor blade hit an under-construction pillar in the terminal while another landed on the roof. The impact of the crash ruptured the fuel tank, but no fire broke out.

Fire tenders rushed to the spot and sprayed foam as the rescue team evacuated the pilots from the cockpit.
Airport officials said the cause of the mishap is yet to be ascertained. “The helicopter had landed at the Chandigarh airport for refuelling after taking off from Kalchalhani (near Badal village). Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal had flown in the same helicopter to Jalalabad yesterday. Last evening, he boarded an aircraft from Bathinda to New Delhi and the helicopter was parked at Kalchalhani as night flying is not allowed from there. The craft took off this morning and flew to Chandigarh,” said an official.
After refuelling, the chopper had to land at the helipad in Sector 1, Chandigarh, opposite the CM’s residence, from where local bodies and industries minister Manoranjan Kalia had to board it for a trip to Mukerian in Hoshiarpur, he added. The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered an inquiry in the incident. A team of air safety officials reached the accident site in the evening and initiated an inquiry. The team is expected to submit its report within a month.

Flights rescheduled from IAF tarmac

Panic spread through the airport in the morning after the crash. An airport official said he was standing on the first floor of the terminal when he saw the helicopter take off, reach the height of the first floor and then tumble down. “For a moment we thought the helicopter will hit the building,” he said, adding that debris was spread across a large patch on the tarmac.

Passengers who came in a little late were surprised to see the news of the crash flashing on TVs in the waiting area. To avoid panic, the departure gate was shifted away from the crash site. Flights from Delhi and Mumbai were shifted to the IAF tarmac, which led to minor delays.
Airport Controller H S Toor said, “Our first priority was to ensure that the flights were on schedule. We arranged special coaches for the passengers and made use of the IAF tarmac. By afternoon two of the bays were functional.”

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