Staff Reporter

Pilot seriously injured in the incident

  • The accident occurred around 9.45 a.m.
  • A court of inquiry has been ordered into the incident

    BANGALORE: Even as the city is pulling out all stops to host the Aero India show next week, the co-pilot of an advanced light helicopter (ALH) of the Indian Air Force (IAF) was killed and the pilot seriously injured after the chopper crashed at the Yelahanka Air Field here Friday.

    The accident happened around 9.45 a.m. when four helicopters of the IAF's Sarang display team were practising for Aero India-2007, scheduled to begin at the Yelahanka Air Field on February 6.

    According to an IAF spokesman, the helicopter crashed after the pilot, Wing Commander V. Jaitley, lost height.

    As the helicopter crashed short of Runway 9 on the western side of the airfield, Wing Commander Jaitley and co-pilot Squadron Leader Priyesh Sharma suffered severe injuries.

    The two were rushed to Air Force Command Hospital and Squadron Leader Sharma (32), of Patna, died around 11.15 a.m.

    Wing Commander Jaitley (39), of New Delhi, is in the intensive care unit and will be under observation for the next 72 hours, the spokesman told The Hindu .

    Not a mid-air collision

    It was not a mid-air collision and the cause for the accident is yet to be ascertained. A court of inquiry has been ordered, the spokesman pointed out.

    Soon after the crash, defence personnel cordoned off the airfield to facilitate investigations by IAF experts. Presspersons were not allowed inside the airfield and also on the abutting roads.

    According to IAF sources, this is the first accident involving an ALH of the Sarang display team.

    Sarang, the first IAF helicopter formation display team, uses the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)-built ALH.

    The word "Sarang" means peacock in Sanskrit and the name was chosen in honour of the national bird.

    The crew and aircraft belong to the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment of the IAF.

    Incidentally, this same make of helicopter developed a technical snag when the Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy used it to go to Gulbarga some 10 days back.

    It started wobbling over Tumkur and had to return to Bangalore.