Week later, YSR chopper mystery unsolved | india | Hindustan Times
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Week later, YSR chopper mystery unsolved

india Updated: Sep 09, 2009 13:14 IST

A week after the helicopter crash that killed Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy and four others, there is still no light on the circumstances that led to the accident.

It is still not clear if it was a human error or a technical failure that led to the crash of the Bell 430 on a hillock in the dense Nallamalla forests, 40 nautical miles from Kurnool, last week on Wednesday.

The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and state police's Crime Investigation Department (CID), which were the first to launch the probe, are still struggling to find answers to key questions.

The state government Monday announced two more parallel probes by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and a two-member expert committee.

Officials engaged in the four parallel inquiries are looking into all angles, including sabotage. There are many questions that need an answer -- was the weather warning issued, was the chopper properly checked before it took off, was it carrying an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) and whether there were any lapses on the part of pilots or Air Traffic Control staff in responding to the requests by the crew to help them.

The Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) or black box recovered from the wreckage is yet to be decoded. "If necessary the CVR would be sent to the United States for decoding," said state Home Minister P Sabita Indra Reddy.

Hoping to find the answers, the probe panel of the DGCA was in Kurnool on Wednesday along with Chief Secretary P. Ramakant Reddy and Director General of Police S.S.P. Yadav to visit the crash site.

The panel headed by RK Tiyagi, chairperson and managing director of Pawan Hans, will be divided into two groups. While one team will make an aerial survey, the other will make a ground inspection of the crash site to understand the circumstances that could have led to the crash.

The DGCA officials will also meet local police and civic officials and forensic experts who conducted autopsy on the five bodies in Kurnool.

YSR, as the chief minister was popularly known, his special secretary, chief security officer and two pilots were killed on Sep 2, an hour after he took off from Hyderabad for Chittoor district to launch a mass contact programme.

The helicopter crashed in bad weather minutes after it lost contact with Air Traffic Control at 9.12 am. The charred bodies of the victims with the wreckage were found 24 hours later after one of the biggest searches in India's aviation history involving Indian Air Force helicopters, fighter jets and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The ground search operation involved army, paramilitary forces, police and even tribals living in the forest.