Pawan Hans 'complacency' blamed for sea crash

Vol 21, PW 8 (25 Jan 18) People & Policy

Several theories are flying around about the tragic Pawan Hans helicopter crash on January 13 that killed five senior ONGC officers and two pilots.

They range from sabotage (unlikely) to a suggestion the chopper was carrying flammable goods. Most people however blame the state-owned helicopter operator's abysmal safety record.

They claim the accident could have been avoided if robust safety management systems were in place. One source points to wide-ranging safety recommendations made by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) on October 25, 2016 following the last Pawan Hans helicopter crash off Mumbai on November 4, 2015 that killed two pilots.

In its 84-page report - seen by Petrowatch - the AAIB sharply criticises a casual approach to safety adopted by Pawan Hans. "Many recommendations made by the earlier courts/committees of inquiry having operational safety implications are yet to be implemented in true spirit," says the report.

"Even actions taken on (earlier) recommendations have withered away with the passage of time due to complacency and non-supervision." More, "due to non availability of senior level operational personnel and ad-hocism (sic) there is no supervision of operational activity." The AAIB adds that for a year before the November 2015 crash the company failed to carry out a "review of Flight Safety Manual, Safety Management System Manual, record keeping on key performance indicators, and training of Pawan Hans executives, pilots, aircraft maintenance engineers in violation of regulations."

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