The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) has written to the aviation security regulator Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) to see whether there is a sabotage angle in the Pawan Hans chopper crash.
The Eurocopter Dauphin N3 chopper, carrying five senior ONGC officials and two pilots, crashed off the coast of Mumbai on January 13.
“We don’t want any angle in the crash to be left unexplored. While we are investigating the technical aspects of the crash, we also want the sabotage angle to be probed,” AAIB officials said. “Therefore, we’ve written to the BCAS director general seeking a separate probe, along with our ongoing investigation.”
AAIB, the apex accident probe body under the Civil Aviation ministry, has a mandate to investigate accidents and serious incidents involving aircrafts. It began the probe soon after the Pawan Hans chopper crash was confirmed.
Meanwhile, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) recovered the last missing body – that of ONGC official VKBL Babu – on Thursday evening, after which it announced termination of search operations in the Arabian Sea.
“The victim’s wife has identified the body after looking at the trousers. We are also going to wait for the DNA test reports that will come later this week,” said a forensic expert from RN Cooper Hospital.
“With this, mortal remains of all passengers, including the pilots onboard the chopper, have been recovered. Most of the aircraft debris, including critical components such as engines, landing gear, cockpit and flight data recorder has already been collected by Coast Guard, ONGC and Naval ships and handed over for investigation,” ICG said in a statement.
The Bombay High, operated by the national energy major ONGC, is the largest oil and gas field in the country and Pawan Hans helicopters routinely ferry ONGC employees and officers to these oil installations that are situated 160 km from the city’s coastline.
The ONGC officials killed in the crash include P N Srinivasan, R Saravanan, V K Babu, Jose Antony and Pankaj Garg (all deputy general managers); while the pilots were Ramesh Ohatkar and V C Katoch.