Saturday, 23 April 2011

More finger pointing and mud slinging on Tawang crash

Three days after the 17 innocent lives were lost in a helicopter crash in the Tawang area of Arunachal Pradesh, an ugly blame game over the horrific incident continues. DGCA Chief Bharat Bhushan on Friday (April 22) said that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation did not receive any complaint or letter from the Arunachal Pradesh government over the contract of Pawan Hans.

He said, "I read about it in the papers. The letter wasn't sent to the DGCA, it was sent to the Ministry of Civil Aviation. It is a question of commercial contract between the government and the carrier it has selected Pawan Hans. If they have differences, I am sure they will sort it out."

The DGCA chief also said that the probe into the crash is on and also that he personally visited the site to conduct an inquiry of his own.

"We have appointed an inquiry officer. I just returned from Tawang yesterday. The debris of the plane has been recovered. He is conducting the inquiry. The data recorder will be sent to Mumbai today for analysis. We hope to get the results very soon. Apart from that, Govt is considering appointment of a committee of inquiry under the relevant aircraft rules. So, these are the steps being taken. I also had a discussion with the CM of Arunachal Pradesh in Tawang," said Bharat Bhushan.

On the blamegame carrying on between the AP government and Pawan Hans over the airworthiness of the chopper that crashed on Wednesday, Bhushan said, "The functionality of the aircraft cannot be determined by the year of its manufacture. As far as my information goes, the aircraft had airworthiness upto the end of this year. On the outward, there was nothing wrong with the aircraft. But of course, we will know the facts when the inquiry is completed."

In January 2010, the Arunachal Pradesh Civil Aviation commissioner wrote to the CMD of Pawan Hans raiding concern over the maintenance of the choppers. The letter states, "It is a matter of serious concern that despite maintaining scheduled inspections/servicing programmes, the 2 MI-172 copters develop frequent technical snags - often of serious nature."

In August 2010, another letter was sent to Pawan Hans raising the issue again. The letter stated, "We cannot escape from expressing our dissatisfaction at the poor standard of safety and maintenance causing technical snag of the door leading to the pathetic death of a cabin crew member."

This written communication sent to Pawan Hans was also communicated to the Union Civil Aviation Ministry. A letter form the state civil aviation to the ministry of civil aviation said, "Since this is the 2nd tragic Pawan Hans accident that had taken place in Arunachal, the matter may be looked into for a discrete inquiry for fixing accountability on poor maintenance. The state Govt has written to the CMD of Pawan Hans prior to this on 2 separate occasions."