Indian government blames weather for Bipin Rawat helicopter crash

Jan 14, 2022: An official inquiry has found that a helicopter carrying Indian Defense Chief General Bipin Rawat crashed last month due to a sudden change in weather conditions, killing all 14 people on board.

Rawat, 63, was traveling with his wife and other senior officers in a Russian-made Mi-17V5 helicopter that crashed near its destination in the southern state of Tamil Nadu on December 8.

After an inquiry that analysed the Flight data recorder, the cockpit voice recorder and witness statements, a statement was issued by the Indian defence ministry reading, “The court of inquiry has ruled out mechanical failure, sabotage or negligence as a cause of the accident,”

“The accident was a result of entry into clouds due to unexpected change in weather conditions in the valley, this led to spatial disorientation of the pilot resulting in Controlled Flight into Terrain.”

A day after the crash, India’s defense minister said the helicopter had lost contact with air traffic control seven minutes before landing and had not made a distress call before being engulfed in flames in a forested area. Rawat was India’s first Chief of Defense Staff, a post created by the government in 2019, and was seen as close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Rawat was a outspoken and polarizing, but nonetheless a very popular, officer who came from a military family and survived a helicopter crash in 2015 with minor injuries. The general was on his way to the Defense Services Staff College to address students and teachers when a Mi-17 helicopter crashed into a fog.

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