A private chopper carrying five people from the Juhu aerodrome to Aurangabad on Sunday morning crashed into forested hills in Thane district’s Murbad taluka, around 100km from Mumbai, killing everyone on board.
The helicopter, which belonged to United Helicharters Private Limited, a city-based private chartered operator, was ferrying a senior pilot and two aircraft maintenance engineers on a service call when the mishap took place. Those killed in the crash include the commander Surendra Singh Bhadauria, co-pilot Allen Martin, senior pilot Anshu Matta and aircraft maintenance engineers Yatin Wakde and Dean D’Souza.
The Bell 206 four-seater chopper is suspected to have lost its way amid heavy rain and mist above the hilly terrain, said officials from the DGCA. “Poor weather seems to be the primary factor of the mishap,” said a senior DGCA official.
The chopper was stuck amid thick vegetation and mud in the hilly stretch, and rescue workers took about two hours to reach the crash site from the nearest road.
“This is the first mishap in over 60,000 hours of flying done by our company, so it has shaken us up,” said UHPL’s chief executive officer Nurani Balakrishnan.