Accident Eurocopter AS 350B3 Ecureuil VT-PHT, 30 Apr 2011
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 122048
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Time:c. 05:00 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic AS50 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Eurocopter AS 350B3 Ecureuil
Owner/operator:Pawan Hans Helicopters (PHHL)
Registration: VT-PHT
MSN: 4991
Fatalities:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Near Lubuthang, Arunachal Pradesh -   India
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Tawang Army Helipad
Destination airport:Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh
Investigating agency: AAIB India
Confidence Rating: Information verified through data from accident investigation authorities
On 30th April 2011 M/S Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited AS 350 B3 Helicopter VT-PHT met with an accident when flying from Tawang Army helipad to Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh. Initially, the helicopter was declared missing. The crash was confirmed after the sighting of the crash site on 4th May 2011 by Yak herders and subsequently at 04:15 hours by an Indian Air Force Helicopter near Lubuthang village in Arunachal Pradesh.

The dead included the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh state.

According to the official report into the incident:

"On 30th April 2011 M/S Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited AS 350 B3 Helicopter VT-PHT was positioned for carrying the CM of Arunachal Pradesh and his entourage from Tawang Army helipad to Itanagar. The helicopter, which was based at Itanagar, was certified serviceable by the AME, after the daily inspection on 30th April 2011as per the pre-flight task card. The pilot accepted the helicopter as per the procedure. Since Itanagar does not have an ATC or Met facility, the operating crew is required to fax the flight plan to Guwahati ATC. However, the crew was unable to fax the written flight plan to ATC and hence passed the flight plan telephonically to MLC Guwahati. MLC Guwahati in turn passed the flight details telephonically to ATC Guwahati. The flight was issued with a valid ADC and FIC. The crew also obtained the current weather of Itanagar and Guwahati telephonically. The helicopter took off from Itanagar at 0200 hrs and landed at Guwahati.

Thereafter, the helicopter was refueled and got airborne from Guwahati at 0316 hrs and landed at Tawang Army helipad at 0406 hrs. The pilot carried out the necessary quality checks on the fuel, refueled 140 litres and repositioned the helicopter for takeoff at the helipad. The helicopter was fully serviceable, as the pilot reported no defect.

The weather at the time of Take Off was reported as Winds 2300/05 Kts, Visibility 6000 Metres with Sela Pass partially visible and Bhutan valley clear. The passengers consisting of the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh and three others reported and went through the Army Security. The helicopter obtained clearance to start at 0420 hrs. At 0423 hrs, the helicopter attempted a pick up with four passengers on board. As per the eyewitness (helicopter pilots), in the process of the pick up the helicopter turned through 70 to 80 degrees to the right in an uncontrolled manner. The Captain carried out a sit down and one passenger, OSD to the CM, got down from the helicopter. A second pick up was attempted and another sit down was carried out. This time three pieces of baggage was off loaded from the helicopter. The helicopter carried out another pick up, but had to again sit down as the door of the helicopter was not closed and locked properly. Subsequently, the helicopter got airborne at 0426 hrs and routed via Banga Janga and Sela pass for Itanagar on an approximate direction of 160-180 degrees. The estimated time of arrival at Itanagar was given as 0535 hrs. At 0436 hrs, the pilot reported position as overhead in the Sela Pass. The pilot also reported that the Sela Pass was partially clear and a break through being there in the clouds over Sela. At 0440 hrs, the Captain reported 15 nautical miles clear of Sela pass and changed over the frequency to the valley frequency. At 0623 hrs, the Aviation Officer at Tawang, along with a few personnel from the Tawang Police Control Room came to the ATC at Tawang and informed that the
helicopter had not yet landed at Itanagar. The ATC at Tawang took the necessary overdue action of informing PA to DC Tawang, ATC Tezpur, MLC Guwahati, the Air Force authorities at Guwahati and Shillong, Pawan Hans Guwahati and ITBP Tawang.

Search and Rescue (SAR) was initiated but hampered due the inclement weather. The SAR was also delayed by the reports of a phone call received by a Minister, Govt of Arunachal Pradesh and
information passed by an MLA from Arunachal Pradesh, stating that the helicopter had landed safely in Bhutan. The same was passed to the ATC at Guwahati by an OSD to the CM of Arunachal Pradesh. Initial reports came in that the helicopter was sighted in Bhutan valley. A considerable amount of time was wasted in searches in the Bhutan valley. However, on correlating the time of observation of the eyewitness, it became apparent that the helicopter had been sighted when it was enroute to Tawang helipad from Guwahati during the positioning flight. The crash site was located on 4th May 2011 by Yak herder tribesmen of Brokpas who live in and around the area close to Lubuthang in an uninhabited area in the Kamang sector of Arunachal Pradesh at an approx altitude of 4600 metres and approximate coordinates 270 34‟ 05‟N 920 12‟03‟E.

No Emergency Transmitter Locator (ELT) messages from Cospas Satellite system were received by the Indian Mission Control Center (IMCC) on any frequency. All the occupants received fatal injuries due to the helicopter impacting the rocky face of a cliff and subsequently catching fire."



Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: AAIB India
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report

Revision history:

02-May-2011 02:48 gerard57 Added
02-May-2011 02:53 gerard57 Updated [Aircraft type]
02-May-2011 04:25 RobertMB Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Source]
04-May-2011 03:30 gerard57 Updated [Location, Source, Damage, Narrative]
04-May-2011 04:19 gerard57 Updated [Narrative]
04-May-2011 06:35 gerard57 Updated [Location, Source, Narrative]
05-May-2011 06:35 RobertMB Updated [Registration, Cn, Other fatalities, Source]
08-Aug-2014 20:07 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
08-Aug-2014 20:12 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Narrative]
22-Mar-2015 22:25 Aerossurance Updated [Source, Narrative]
17-Jun-2019 16:59 Ajai Updated [Narrative]

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