A Chetak helicopter of the Indian Navy that was taxiing through the runway of the Naval airport at Willingdon Island near Kochi on November 4 noon suffered a technical snag and lost balance, resulting in the death of a ground crew, it is learnt.
The helicopter operated from INS Garuda, the Naval air station next to the Southern Naval Command (SNC) in Kochi. Yet another ground crew and the two pilots on board escaped with injuries. They have been admitted to INHS Sanjivani, the Naval Hospital at the SNC premises.
The dead personnel has been identified by the Navy as Yogendra Singh, Leading Air Mechanic (LAM). He died after reportedly being hit by the helicopter’s rotor blade.
In an official release, the Navy said, “A Chetak helicopter met with a ground accident today during maintenance taxi checks at INS Garuda, Kochi, resulting in the unfortunate loss of life of one ground crew. A Board of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of accident.”
The Navy Chief Adm. R Harikumar joined other personnel in mourning the loss of life of Mr Singh and extended heartfelt condolences to his family members.
Navy sources said that this was not a crash, since the helicopter that can carry up to seven people, was not airborne at the time of the accident. One needs to probe what led to the accident and whether there was any problem with its engine, gear or rotor blades. The Board of Enquiry (BOE) by aircraft specialists would probe the accident and whether any fire triggered it.
The Harbour Police have registered a case under S.174 (unnatural death) of Cr.PC.
The fatal accident came even as the SNC was organising a slew of public outreach programmes in the run-up to Navy Day observance on December 4. In yet another accident in 2020 near Mattancherry BOT Bridge - located a stone’s throw from the Naval Airport, a Naval sailor and officer died in a crash involving a Naval power-hand glider crash that was on a routine training sortie. Two Naval aviation sailors were crushed to death in 2018 after a portion of the sliding hangar door at INS Garuda dislodged from the supporting rails and collapsed on them.
Earlier this year, an Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Mark III of Indian Coast Guard had crashed at the Cochin International Airport, injuring three personnel.