Army helicopter sent distress call to ATC before crash in Arunachal: Sources

New Delhi: Before it went down in the mountainous region of Migging in Arunachal Pradesh, the Army’s Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) sent a distress call to the air traffic control suggesting a technical failure, the Army said on Saturday.

Mortal remains of four personnel out of five on board the Weapon System Integrated (WSI) version of the indigenously-built helicopter were retrieved by rescue teams on Friday evening, hours after the aircraft crashed.

“Prior to the crash, the Air Traffic Control (ATC) had received a MAY DAY call suggesting a technical or mechanical failure,” an official said.

Army officials said the Court of Inquiry, constituted to investigate the cause of the accident, will focus on the distress call by the pilots even as the weather was reported good for flying operations. Sources added that the pilots had more than 600 combined flying hours on ALH-WSI and over 1800 service flying hours between them.

The aircraft was inducted into service in June 2015.

Sources said two pilots, identified as Major Vikas Bhambu, QFI, and Major Mustafa, along with three technicians, were onboard the HAL Rudra that took off from Likabali town and crashed at a location not connected by any road, about 35 km from the border with China.

The ALH (WSI), also known as Rudra Mark IV, is a potent attack helicopter, designed and developed by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to fill very niche roles in the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force.

The Indian Army’s aviation wing has been deploying the WSI variant of the Advanced Light Helicopter Rudra in the region, adding more teeth to its tactical missions in view of the lingering border row with China in eastern Ladakh.

The multi-role helicopter of 5.8 Ton class is an armed version of the Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv. The indigenously-designed and developed ALH-Dhruv is a multi-role, multi-mission new generation helicopter.

Also read | Arunachal: At least five dead in Army chopper crash near Tuting

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