The crash is indeed mystifying as the Russian Mi-17V-5 helicopter is known to be an extremely trustworthy, stable and safe helicopter. It is used to ferry top VIPs, including the President and the Prime Minister.
The Mi-17V-5 happens to be a twin-engine chopper – if one engine fails, the other comes into play. Also, it is used regularly in high-altitude operations; equipped with modern avionics, it can be used in any geographic and weather conditions, both in daytime and at night.
The chopper is essentially a huge chunk of metal and one of the most powerful and robust flying machines available with the defence forces. The helicopter crashed shortly after it took off from the Air Force base in Sulur at 11.45 am, Coimbatore, for Wellington in the Nilgiri Hills. It was making its descent and would have landed in 10 more minutes when it came down, barely 10 km from a road.
An eyewitness said, it was misty, may be due to which the chopper hit a tree and went down. It was also speculated that as the chopper was close to Coonoor, it would have been flying low and may be flew into the hill. However, experts point out that the pilot would have had the Met forecast for a couple of hours and could easily have negotiated the mist; also, he would have known the topography like the back of his hand. Choppers are known to fly in worse climatic conditions in Arunachal.
The Sulur airbase, from where the ill-fated chopper took off, operates these helicopters all the time.