Helicopter scare for ONGC at Juhu helibase

Vol 21, PW 19 (28 Jun 18) People & Policy

ONGC witnessed a major safety scare this week at its Juhu helicopter base in Mumbai, five months after a Pawan Hans helicopter crashed offshore Mumbai killing five ONGC deputy general managers and two pilots.

On June 26, a Bell 412 helicopter with landing pads instead of wheels, owned by private operator Global Vectra, experienced a 'hard landing' while attempting to take off for the Mumbai offshore. No one was injured but the incident so frightened ONGC employees they refused to board helicopters for the rest of the day.

Flights were resumed on June 27 after senior management intervened. This crew-change helicopter, with call sign VT-GVA, had eight ONGC employees on board: five bound for the NQO platform and three for the MHN platform plus two pilots.

At 12.55 it took off from Juhu helibase but after climbing eight feet landed with a thud on the runway with smoke and fire pouring out of the engine. Air traffic controllers promptly rushed fire and ambulance services to bring passengers and pilots back to base; the helicopter was towed away.

Global Vectra chief operating officer Pushpinder Oberai said: "It was a hard landing, that's all. There was no damage to men or machine." He added: "We will have the helicopter checked and after it is certified airworthy, fly it again." Oberai said civil aviation regulator DGCA sent an inspector on the day of the incident ahead of an imminent formal inspection.