The IAF on Sunday strongly rebutted reports that an internal probe had given a "clean chit" to its pilots involved in the mishap of the President's helicopter at Bhubaneswar airport and blamed ground staff for the incident.
"The court of inquiry into the incident is still incomplete and it is too premature to come to any conclusions on who was at fault," IAF spokesperson Wing Commander T K Singha said in New Delhi in the wake of TV channel reports claiming preliminary findings showed the pilots were not at fault.
Singha said the probe would take more time to come up with a report, which would have to go through senior IAF officers before the findings are finalised.
"So it is not correct to jump to conclusions on the probe results as some TV channels are doing," he said.
The IAF had ordered the court of inquiry into the rotor blades of a Mi-8 helicopter hitting an asbestos structure at the Bhubaneshwar airport while taxiing to the parking bay after landing there last on Thursday.
The helicopter was carrying President Pratibha Patil, her husband Devi Singh Sekhawat and Orissa Governor M C Bhandari
All on board the aircraft walked out safe, but the rotor blades of the chopper, which was part of a three-helicopter entourage, was damaged.
On the day of the mishap, there were conflicting reports emerging out of the IAF and the Bhubaneswar ground staff on how the incident occurred.
While IAF claimed that the ground staff had not marked the taxiing line for the chopper to reach the parking bay, the latter alleged that the pilots had refused directions of the 'follow-me' jeep to guide the chopper to the apron.