Special Correspondent

Says it was an accident that could have been averted

HYDERABAD: An inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has ruled out any conspiracy or sabotage in the helicopter crash in which former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and four others were killed in Kurnool district on September 2, 2009.

The CBI, which carried out a detailed and very exhaustive probe, concluded that the crash was an accident which could have been averted had the pilots taken a decision to terminate the journey or change the flight path in view of the adverse weather conditions.

The premier investigating agency submitted the report to the State government as well as the Kurnool district Collector on Friday. It is learnt that the CBI had recommended the suspension of a top official of the AP Aviation Corporation who had also attracted ire earlier of the four-member Committee headed by R.K. Tyagi that conducted a separate probe into the crash.

The DGCA-constituted committee had also come to the conclusion that both pilots of the twin-engined Bell 430 had shown poor judgement in not thinking it fit to return to Hyderabad or divert the helicopter to a nearby location, although the weather was highly inclement.

The CBI said in its report that the helicopter took off at 8.38 a.m. from the Begumpet Airport here and disappeared from the radar screen of Air Traffic Controller, Hyderabad International Airport, Shamshahbad at 9.23:30 hrs. after travelling a distance of 94.1 nautical miles from Begumpet. Search and Rescue operations located its wreckage on a hillock Chirumanu Chiruthagundam Thippa in Nallamala reserve forest. YSR was to attend Rachabanda (village square) programme in Chittoor district.

After a request from the State, the CBI took up the probe after registering a preliminary inquiry in Hyderabad on September 11.