NEW DELHI, April 20 � Aviation regulator DGCA today launched preliminary investigations into the helicopter crash in Arunachal Pradesh that claimed 17 lives, reports PTI.
A high-level team of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation led by its chief E K Bharat Bhushan visited the accident site at Tawang, official sources here said, adding that a two-member panel started probe into yesterday�s incident.
They said the DGCA was also proposing to set up a full fledged Court of Inquiry (CoI) into the accident, as was done in the case of the Mangalore air crash last May. A CoI, which is assisted by independent technical assessors, goes into all aspects of an accident.
The team of two DGCA officials � Sanit Kumar, Deputy Director of the Regional Controller of Air Safety, and H N Mishra, a senior official with air safety division � conducted a site inspection on reaching Tawang this morning.
The Russian-origin MI-17 chopper, owned by Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd (PHHL), took off from Guwahati for Tawang but caught fire just before it was to land at the helipad located at an altitude of 11,000 feet.
There were 23 people on board the chopper - 16 adult passengers, two minors, two pilots, and three crew members. Six people, including both the pilots, survived the crash with burn injuries.
Pawan Hans operates daily helicopter services between Guwahati and Tawang and other remote locations in Arunachal Pradesh under an MoU signed between the public sector company and the State government.
The chopper that crashed was in service for the past 14 years after being inducted in 1997.
�A thorough probe would unravel the reason behind the crash. In the meantime the second MI-17 chopper would not ply on the route as it has gone for servicing,� the sources added.
Our Itanagar correspondent adds: In the meantime, the chopper operator, Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited has announced ex-gratia payment of Rs 1 lakh each to the nearest kins of deceased and Rs 50,000 each to the seriously injured. Moreover, Rs 7.5 lakh each would be made available as insurance compensation for the deceased, while the expense of treatment of the injured will be reimbursed by the insurer, New India Insurance Company, the source added.