Pilot disorientation caused CDS Rawat’s chopper crash: CoI

The CoI found that the disorientation of the pilot caused the "completely airworthy aircraft" which is "completely under the control of the crew" flying into a "terrain, water, or obstacle"

Spatial disorientation to the pilot due to sudden entry into clouds caused the crash of Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat's chopper in the Nilgiris in December 2021

Spatial disorientation to the pilot due to sudden entry into clouds caused the crash of Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat’s chopper in the Nilgiris in December 2021, a Triservices Court of Inquiry (CoI) has found. The CDS and 13 others, including his wife Madhulika Rawat, were killed in the accident.

The CoI, headed by IAF’s foremost helicopter pilot Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, had examined the Mi-17V5’s flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, other than analysing a great deal of communication and interacting with all available witnesses.

The CoI found that the disorientation of the pilot caused the “completely airworthy aircraft” which is “completely under the control of the crew” flying into a “terrain, water, or obstacle.” In technical terms, it is called “Controlled Flight into Terrain” or C-FIT. [The term C-FIT was coined by engineers of Boeing in the 1970s and the crew is unaware of the impending danger until it is too late to take corrective action].

According to International Air Travel Association (IATA) data between 2008 and 2017, C-FIT was the second-highest cause of accidents after Loss of Contro lin Flight (LOCI).

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Also read: Bipin Rawat’s death in IAF chopper crash: Black box retrieved

The CoI ruled out negligence, sabotage or mechanical failure as the cause of the accident. The CoI has also reportedly submitted a set of recommendations to prevent such accidents in the future.

The other personnel on the chopper included Brigadier L.S. Lidder, Lt. Col. Harjinder Singh, Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan and Squadron Leader Kuldeep Singh. While 13 of the 14 onboard died in the crash, Group Captain Varun Singh succumbed to injuries a week later. Spatial disorientation to the pilot due to sudden entry into clouds caused the crash of Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat’s chopper in the Nilgiris in December 2021, a Triservices Court of Inquiry (CoI) has found. The CDS and 13 others, including his wife Madhulika Rawat, were killed in the accident.

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