** Sagar Sandesh print version ceases to be published from December 31, 2017. New look E-paper would be available from Jan. 1, 2018 onwards. free of cost.**

Helicopter crash off Mumbai kills senior ONGC officials

 A Pawan Hanshelicopter, with two pilots and five ONGC deputy general managers on board, crashed in the Arabian Sea about 55km northwest of Juhu airport on Saturday morning. The chopper was on its way to a production platform complex in BombayHigh when tragedy struck.

The  VTPWADauphin AS 365 N3 twin-engine helicopter took off from Juhu at 10.14 and  was scheduled to land at North Field of ONGC at 10.58am but didn't land at the scheduled time.   According to ONGC, the last contact with the helicopter was at 10.33am. "Thereafter, the helicopter was incommunicado. The ONGC control began contacting helipads in the vicinity to check if it had landed elsewhere," an official said.

The Coast Guard and the Navy which being alerted sprang into action with a Dornier aircraft and a Coast Guardship . Within an hour, the aircraft found debris at the crash site and Coast Guard ship spotted the first body around 2.30pm; and by 8.30pm, all six bodies had been recovered.

The ill-fated Dauphin SA365N3 helicopter had two senior pilots captains Ramesh Ohatkar and VC Katoch at the controls and ONGC employees on board were identified as R Saravanan, PN Sreenivasan, Jose Antony, Pankaj Garg and VK Bindu Lal Babu all deputy general managers.

As the news of the crash spread, several ONGC employees gathered at the homes of the missing officials. Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan visited the homes of ONGC DGMs P N Srinivasan and Jose Antony at ONGC Colony in Bandra Reclamation from where he proceeded to Vasai to meet Bindu Lal Babu's family.

The oil major's chairman and managing director Shashi Shanker  rushed to Mumbai to monitor the search operation.

In a statement, ONGC said, "The reason behind the unfortunate incident is yet to be ascertained."

. Trying to explain the cause of the crash, experts said it could have happened due to aircraft engine mechanical failure or pilot disorientation owing to haze and poor visibility. "For over two years now, Safran engines installed in Dauphins have been suffering from start-up problems. The engine seizes during starts. Pawan Hans has had 12-13 cases of Safran engine seizures in the past two years," said a Pawan Hans official. A senior helicopter pilot said though it was daylight, disorientation cannot be ruled out. Helicopters performing offshore flights fly at about 2,500 feet at 250kmph and offshore, visibility can be poor at times with haze

Production platforms are immovable structures of about 300-500 sq m area where crude oil or natural gas is produced. An ONGC official, requesting anonymity, said employees engaged in offshore operations undergo a mandatory training on survival in sea and an helicopter underwater egress training and test once every 3-4 years. The training prepares them to carry out an emergency exit from an helicopter in case of a planned or unplanned water landing. In this case, though, it appears the helicopter crashed into the sea. "There is nothing that one can do in case of a crash," the official said.

The civil aviation ministry has directed the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) to conduct a detailed probe into the accident, which is the twenty-first of its kind since the inception of Pawan Hans 31 years ago.


Copyright © 2018 PORT TO PORT - Shipping Services Portal ( Sagar Sandesh ). All rights reserved.

Follow Us