Court of Inquiry: Spatial disorientation of Pilot cause of IAF Chopper Crash

bipin rawat law insider

Mitali Palnitkar

Published On: January 15, 2022 at 14:47 IST

On December 8, 2021, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and 13 others were killed in an IAF chopper crash near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. The tri-services Court of Inquiry submitted preliminary findings determining the cause of crash. It was due to entry into clouds because of unprecedented weather change which led to spatial disorientation of pilot.

Air Marshal Manavendra Singh, who is an Air Crash Investigator headed the Court of Inquiry. Presently, he heads the Training Command of the IAF headquartered at Bengaluru.

On January 14, 2022, the IAF (Indian Air Force) stated that the Court of Inquiry found that negligence, sabotage, or mechanical failure were not the causes for the crash.

IAF stated, “The accident was a result of entry into clouds due to unexpected change in weather conditions in the valley. This led to spatial disorientation of the pilot resulting in Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT).” CFIT is an unintentional collision with terrain despite the aircraft being under control.

The IAF also stated, “Based on its findings, the Court of Inquiry has made certain recommendations which are being reviewed.” The Inquiry team questioned the witnesses, and analyzed the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder to find out the cause of the crash.

In the Mi-17V5 accident; the wife of General Rawat, Madhulika, Defence Advisor Brigadier LS Lidder, Staff Officer to CDS Lieutenant Colonel Harjinder Singh, and Pilot Group Captain Varun Singh were among the 13 others killed. A new Chief of Defence Staff is yet to be appointed.

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