Kochi runway shut for 2 hours after Coast Guard chopper crash-lands

Pilots were testing chopper when it crash-landed; two international flights diverted to Thiruvananthapuram after runway closure

Kochi airport, Coast Guard, ALH Dhruv Mark 3, chopper crash
The ALH Dhruv Mark 3 was around 25 feet from the ground when it had to make a forced landing, said the Coast Guard | Pic: Twitter/IADN

The runway of Kerala’s Kochi airport was shut for two hours on Sunday (March 26) afternoon after a Coast Guard helicopter crash-landed shortly after take-off.

While news agency ANI reported that all crew were safe, some reports claimed two persons were injured. The chopper’s rotors and airframe were reportedly damaged. The Coast Guard has ordered an inquiry into the accident.

The runway was shut down for inspection at the accident site. Two international flights were diverted to Thiruvananthapuram after the runway was closed, said officials.

Runway cleared after inspection

An official statement said that since a “Coast Guard ALH helicopter was involved in an accident while take off from CIAL at 12.25 pm today, airport operation had to be suspended” for two hours. CIAL stands for Cochin International Airport Limited.

“The ALH was removed from the operational area around 2 pm” and the runway cleared after safety inspection, the statement added. “Flight operation is expected to be resume shortly,” it said.

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The helicopter crash-landed just as it was about to take off from the helipad, said reports. Two of the three persons on board were reportedly injured and taken to hospital.

Forced landing

The helicopter was identified as an ALH Dhruv Mark 3 of the Indian Coast Guard. The Coast Guard termed it “an incident of forced landing” when the pilots were testing the chopper. The chopper was around 25 feet from the ground when it had to make a forced landing, it added in a statement.

According to ANI, the Coast Guard statement further said, “Immediately after take-off, when the CG 855 was at about 30-40 ft above ground, the cyclic controls (which controls longitudinal and lateral movement of aircraft) did not respond. Showing exemplary professionalism and presence of mind, the pilot with bare minimum controls manoeuvred the aircraft away from the main runway to avoid blocking the runway at the international airport.”

(With agency inputs)