ONGC ropes in Rotary Wing Society to probe Mumbai chopper crash

NEW DELHI: State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has roped in the Rotary Wing Society of India to probe whether poor maintenance was one of the reasons for a Pawan Hans helicopter crashing in Arabian Sea in January this year which killed all the seven people onboard.
RWSI is a not-for-profit professional body specialising in both civil and military helicopters. It is an affiliate of Helicopter Association International (HAI) and headed by Air Vice Marshall K Sridharan.

"While the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is probing the reasons for the accident, we wanted to ascertain if the talks of poor maintenance at Pawan Hans could be a factor," a senior company official said.

The RWSI report is expected later this month. "The objective behind the exercise is to take corrective measures so as to avoid reoccurrence of such unfortunate accidents," he said. "We are not looking at fault finding. We want to be assured that all is well with Pawan Hans and if there are any areas where things can be tightened or improved."

Improper maintenance, non-adherence to procedures, non-compliance of safety regulations by the operator are some of the common findings in probe reports prepared by the DGCA into 20 of 25 accidents involving Pawan Hans helicopters over the last 30 years. Since 1988, 91 people have been killed in these accidents, including 60 passengers, 27 pilots and four crew.

On January 13 this year, a Dauphin N3 helicopter, operated by Pawan Hans, crashed off the Mumbai coast, killing five ONGC officers it was ferrying to an offshore oil and gas facility as well as the two pilots.

The Dauphin is a medium weight multi-purpose twin-engine helicopter.

"We don't know yet the reasons for the accident. Only after competent authorities examine the black block (flight and cockpit voice recorder) can we know the reasons. We haven't been told anything about the reasons by the aviation authorities so far," the official said.


Both engines of the helicopter were found to be intact, ruling out the possibility of a mid-air explosion.
Pawan Hans operates seven Dauphin N3 Helicopters for ONGC's offshore operations. These helicopters, based at Juhu airport, Mumbai and Rajahmundry, undertake passenger crew change service and production trips on a regular basis to meet the offshore requirements of the state-owned oil and gas producer.
Pawan Hans is a joint venture between the government of India owning 51 per cent stake, and ONGC which holds the remaining 49 per cent interest.
As of January 2017, Pawan Hans has a fleet of 46 helicopters. It was incorporated to provide helicopter support services to the oil sector, services in remote and hilly areas, as well as, for charter services.

In 2015, a Pawan Hans chopper had crashed off Mumbai High, the country's largest offshore oilfield 176 kilometres off the Mumbai coast. The helicopter, which was conducting night landing practice, was carrying two pilots. Only one body was found.

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