Pawan Hans commercial helicopter services suspended in NE

Pawan Hans commercial helicopter services suspended in NE

Guwahati: Pawan Hans commercial helicopter services in the northeast have been suspended following the death of former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Dorjee Khandu along with four others in a chopper crash on Saturday.

The flights of Asia’s largest helicopter company were not operating since Sunday as the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was undertaking checks and reviewing its choppers operating in the region, sources in the Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd (PHHL) said Friday.

The DGCA would also examine why the advanced emergency locator transmitter (ELT) fitted into Khandu’s helicopter did not transmit signals on heavy impact during the crash, they said.

The signals of the ELT, fitted for locating a chopper in case of a mishap, can be picked by ISRO satellites or any other aircraft flying over the crash site as the equipment is activated automatically on heavy impact, they said.

But as no signal was picked up by the satellites or the search operation aircraft, the sources said, the DGCA would also look into why the ELT did not get activated.

The Dauphin, Bell 206 L4, Bell 407 and MI-172 helicopters in service in the northeast by the PHHL were maintained as per the stipulated guidelines of the manufacturers and approved by the DGCA, they said.

Unable to state from when the services would resume in the area, the sources said they were confident of restarting the chopper operations after the company’s entire fleet was carefully examined and declared airworthy.

DGCA sources in Guwahati confirmed that the Pawan Hans helicopter services were not operating in the northeast since Khandu’s crash.

They, however, could not confirm if the suspension was following an order from the DGCA or the civil aviation ministry.

Meghalaya and Sikkim had suspended Pawan Hans flights after Khandu’s chopper had gone missing on 30 April.

PHHL has been operating since 1989 in the seven northeastern states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland and Manipur, besides Sikkim to connect to inaccessible areas.