Rescue equipment can prevent fatalities, says father of army pilot who died in crash


New Delhi: Captain Jayant Joshi’s father, who was killed when his Rudra Weapon System Integrated (WSI) attack helicopter crashed in the Ranjit Sagar Dam reservoir in Jammu and Kashmir on August 3, urged the president Indian to “make it compulsory for all army pilots.” to undergo underwater survival training and also equip them with essential life-saving appliances ”and to make their helicopters“ float-worthy ”.

In his petition to Ram Nath Kovind, who is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Harish Chander Joshi cited the case of his son’s helicopter crash to seek better and more advanced safety features in flying machines used by the Army Aviation Corps.

“Glaring gaps in security processes”

He recalled in the petition that his son Jayant, of 254 Squadron, Military Aviation, along with Lt. Col. AS Batth, a test pilot and aviation instructor, was on a mission trip, training at the acquisition of targets and deployment of integrated weapons, when their helicopter crashed into the dam tank. As a result, they drowned in deep water.

While Batth’s body was found 13 days after the crash, Jayant’s remains were found on day 76. Joshi had twice asked the president in the meantime to seek his intervention to ensure that the search for his son’s body was not suspended, as he had received notices that he could be buried permanently in the water.

In his latest petition, Joshi claimed that there were “many glaring gaps in the security processes followed in military aviation”. He said the investigation had “apparently also revealed an attitude of apathy and contempt for pilot safety and training needs among those responsible for military aviation affairs.”

“The tank provided an obstacle-free space for low-level flight”

Noting that Rudra WSI, an advanced light helicopter, which is currently the Indian Army’s primary attack helicopter, is supposed to fly low to avoid being detected and shot by the enemy, Joshi said that “he is supposed to fly above the ground “. Stating that since “Rudra was not intended to be flown over water,” he asked “why were the squadron’s helicopters routinely dispatched to fly over a vast expanse of water 25 km in length. long and 8 km wide? This body of water information was often made public by the military’s own advertising wing.

Joshi, who stayed at the Mamun military station with his wife, who is a nursing officer, while the search for her son was ongoing, added that he was told the helicopter was flying over the tank when “it was the only area available for low level flight as it was free of obstacles”.

“If so, has someone responsible for the management of the military’s aviation affairs, from top to bottom at the squadron command level, fulfilled the basic training needs? survival equipment and provided them with the necessary safety equipment before sending them over the water? Weren’t they aware of these needs? Did they not know that their pilots risked their lives by flying over a vast body of water every day? They knew it but chose to ignore and ignore these critical demands, ”he asked in the petition.

The petition also addressed various other aspects of the crash investigation, including the analysis of the cockpit voice recorder / flight data recorder (CVR / FDR) by the crew. court of inquiry; CCTV footage of the accident; and eyewitness testimony, Joshi admitted that he had “no way of finding the exact reason for the accident, except for what the investigation court of inquiry established”, which he had learned a little.

“Lack of basic safety equipment is one of the causes of death”

Joshi said that even though both pilots were dead and could not present their point of view, it was “very evident” that “the lack of training as well as the lack of basic safety equipment to fly over water may be to blame for this accident ”.

“Those who fly over water regularly are trained to escape underwater and survive in the event of an accident. Navy pilots receive this training. These pilots are also equipped with life jackets so that they float and are rescued in the event of a crash over water, ”he added.

Stating that “Jayant’s seat belt was found to be properly opened when the wreckage of the plane was recovered,” he said, “Obviously my son was free of any obstacle to float. It was the same with the other pilot.

But without a life jacket, Joshi said, they couldn’t float. “If basic life saving equipment in the form of a life jacket had been provided to my son, he would have floated on the surface of the water and could have been rescued at the nearest medical center by locals and residents. rescue boats from the dam authorities. which had reached the crash site within 15 minutes of the crash. Deprived of a life jacket, he was killed and went into the water. The other pilot also suffered the same fate.

“I lost my son, please save other pilots from a similar fate”

In light of these findings, Joshi urged the president to make it mandatory for all pilots in the army to take underwater survival training and equip them with essential life-saving equipment. He also demanded that their lifesaving skills upgrade be done through periodic training modules and that their aircraft be made float-worthy.

“I lost my brave soldier son in the prime of my life for the above reasons. Neither the Indian army nor the nation can make up for its loss. An intervention on your part, the Supreme Commander, will save other pilots from a similar fate, ”said the injured father.

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