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Sudden weather change led to pilot's spatial disorientation: Court of Inquiry on IAF chopper crash

11:26 PM Jan 14, 2022 | FPJ Web Desk

NEW DELHI: The IAF chopper crash on December 8 that killed Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat and 13 others was due to an unexpected change in weather that led to the aircraft’s entry into clouds, resulting in spatial disorientation of the pilot and the aircraft inadvertently hitting the terrain.

This is the preliminary finding of the tri-services court of inquiry; at the same time, the probe has ruled out mechanical failure, sabotage or negligence as a cause of the accident.

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The tri-services inquiry had submitted its findings to the Defence Minister last week

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"The inquiry team analysed the Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder besides questioning all available witnesses to determine the most probable cause of the accident,’’ said the statement.

The inquiry was headed by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Training Command.

The exact phraseology used to describe the mishap is ‘controlled flight into terrain’ (CFIT). According to US aviation regulator FAA, CFIT is defined as an unintentional collision with terrain -- the ground, a mountain, a body of water, or an obstacle -- while an aircraft is under positive control. (The critical distinction in such incidents is the fact the aircraft is under the control of the flight crew.)

General Rawat was headed to Defence Services Staff College in Wellington to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course when his chopper crashed.

Based on its findings, the Court of Inquiry has made certain recommendations that are being reviewed. The Tri-Service probe was led by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh.

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