CDS Bipin Rawat Helicopter Crash
On 8th December, in a very tragic incident,
a military helicopter crashed
near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu.
Because of the impact of the crash,
the helicopter gets engulfed in flames.
The locals present and the rescue workers,
do their best to put out the fire.
And to rescue the people in the helicopter.
Soon, it comes to be known, that in the helicopter
was our Chief of Defence Staff
General Bipin Rawat.
"The saddening news right now
is the crash of a helicopter of the Indian Airforce."
"O brave soldier, you're story is now immortal;
Your saga will be told throughout ages.
O sacrificing soldier."
There were 12 other people in the helicopter apart from General Rawat and his wife.
Defense Advisor Brigadier Lakhwinder Singh.
Staff Officer Lt. Col. Harjinder Singh
Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan.
Squadron Leader Kuldeep Singh.
Junior Warrant Officer Rana Pratap Das.
Junior Warrant Officer Arakkal Pradeep.
Havildar Satpal Rai.
Naik Gursewak Singh.
Naik Jitendra Kumar.
Lance Naik Vivek Kumar.
Lance Naik B Sai Teja.
And Captain Varun Singh.
Shockingly, in this entire incident,
there is only one survivor.
Group Captain Varun Singh.
He is still in a hospital in critical condition.
A horrifying day for the country.
There would be questions after such an incident.
Questions about what led to this helicopter crash.
What were the reasons behind it?
It took only a few hours for conspiracy theories to pop up on social media.
Was China involved in it?
Was it Pakistan's fault?
The more shocking and unexpected an event is,
it leaves much more scope for conspiracy theories to be formed.
Because people demand an explanation.
And if there's no clear-cut explanation,
and the event is this impactful,
people try to fill the gaps on their own.
As it happened in the USA with 9/11.
So many conspiracy theories on 9/11.
Come, let's try to understand
the probable reasons behind this crash.
As they are being discussed.
The flight took off from Sulur
and going to Wellington.
The distance was less than 100 km.
It takes about half an hour to cover this distance.
20 minutes after the take-off,
and 7 minutes before the scheduled landing,
the helicopter crashed.
According to the Air Chief Marshal,
it is very difficult to determine what went wrong actually.
In the short duration of the flight.
The first theory to come out
was that perhaps the helicopter was substandard.
That the helicopter wasn't of good quality.
Or that it was an old helicopter.
Because of these, the accident may have taken place.
This was actually an MI 17 V5 military helicopter
made in Russia.
Even though we have seen some cases of MI 17 crashing in the past,
but overall, it is a very modern helicopter.
It is used for transporting personnel, cargo, and equipment.
It can fly at high altitudes.
It can fly in complex weather conditions.
And overall, it is considered to be a very advanced and safe helicopter.
This is why our country's Prime Minister
, as well as the President,
use this helicopter for traveling.
Before this crash, the most recent accident was in 2017,
when an MI 17 V5 helicopter crashed in Arunachal Pradesh
in which 7 soldiers achieved martyrdom.
Even so, these helicopters are one of the most advanced and safest military helicopters.
Other than India, the Airforces of more than 50 countries
are using these helicopters presently.
If the problem isn't in the equipment,
why did it crash?
The second theory was then
that perhaps the pilot wasn't experienced.
But this theory doesn't fit either.
Because this helicopter was flown by Wing Commander PS Chauhan.
He had become a commissioned officer in 2002.
And was promoted to the position of Wing Commander in 2015.
Presently, he was the commanding officer of 109 helicopter units
in the Airforce Station, Coimbatore.
He was a highly experienced pilot
that's why inexperience cannot be cited as a reason for this crash.
The third theory seems to be the most probable.
It's the most likely.
Bad weather and hilly surroundings.
The helipad on which the helicopter was supposed to land,
is at a height of approx 6,000 feet.
Surrounded by dense forests and hills.
Before we can understand any further,
we need to understand some technicalities of a helicopter flight.
While flying a helicopter,
there are 2 types of flying rules, friends.
First, the Instrument Flight Rules.
IF It basically means to fly the helicopter
by relying on the instruments.
The machinery in the helicopter
and the instruments give out measurements
the helicopter flies based on their information.
Most of the civilian helicopter flights are flown under IFR.
And it is a very safe way to fly
because instead of relying on himself, the pilot relies on the instruments.
But the disadvantage of it is that
the helicopter cannot be diverted too much from the set path.
Once it is set that the helicopter needs to fly between two points on a certain path,
the helicopter would have to fly on that path.
The second way is the VFR.
Visual Flight Rules.
If the helicopter pilot wants freedom
to fly over any route,
what is VFR
VFR can be used for that.
VFR stands for Visual Flight Rules.
Visual because the pilot would need to rely on his eyes,
they would have to judge the terrain over which the helicopter is flying.
The terrain, the path they take, and whether or not there are obstacles in the path.
Most military helicopters rely on VFR
when they fly at low heights.
Or when they fly in some hilly region where
the destination helipad doesn't have modern equipment
little to no equipment for navigation.
General Bipin Rawat's helicopter was flying under Visual Flight Rules.
Clear weather is a must for VFR.
It's recommended that the minimum horizontal visibility should be at least 1.5 km.
Meaning they should be able to see 1.5 km ahead.
And this becomes problematic when there're clouds in the sky.
Fog, smog, or heavy rains.
Visibility can be reduced because of these reasons.
And then if the oncoming hills, wires, and trees
are not visible, it can be devastating.
If a helicopter flying under VFR gets lost inside clouds,
pilots can often lose their orientation.
HOW difficult is it to maintain level with the ground level
Imagine you look above, look down,
look at both sides,
and everywhere there're only clouds.
Neither the ground nor the sky is visible.
In such cases, it becomes difficult to remain level with the ground.
Pilots often start going at a slanting level,
without even knowing
and the helicopters crash.
It is known as the Leans.
How difficult is it to balance without sight in a 3-dimensional space
can be tested with a small example.
Stand on one leg and close your eyes
and try to balance.
And see how long you can keep standing up while balancing.
You can still feel the ground with one of your feet,
although it will be difficult to balance.
And now imagine,
the helicopter pilot has no way to know or feel where the ground is.
Or which way is the sky.
This is the reason why there are so many crashes.
Generally, pilots take the decision to fly by VFR
when the sky is clear at the helipad they are flying from.
Many times, the clouds come in suddenly while they are flying.
And especially over hilly sides, fog may set
These are the most dangerous scenarios.
Because the pilot had thought that since the sky was clear,
the weather too would be clear,
but the weather turns bad suddenly.
In such cases, the pilot has to divert their flight path often.
To avoid the bad weather.
Or they have to decide to go back
and land at the helipad they began their flight on.
And to cancel the flight.
But sometimes, knowingly or unknowingly,
directly or indirectly,
pilots are pressured into completing their flight.
This happened in 2020.
Last year, the famous basketball player Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash.
After the investigations, the reason behind this terrible crash was said to be
the pilot's decision to continue the flight under Visual Flight Rules
into 'instrument meteorological conditions.'
Meaning that the conditions demanded IFR rules.
But the pilot decided
to fly under VFR rules.
Which resulted in the pilot's spatial disorientation and loss of control.
Because of this,
Since there were bad weather situations,
the helicopter flew into the clouds
and the pilot became disoriented.
And lost control.
Contributing to the accident,
was the pilot's likely self-induced pressure
and the pilot's plan continuation bias.
Which adversely affected his decision-making.
Meaning that there was a self-induced pressure on the pilot
he put pressure on himself
that despite the bad conditions,
he wanted to fly the helicopter on the same path
Because his client Kobe Bryant was such an important celebrity,
that he didn't want to disappoint him.
He assumed that Kobe may not like it if the helicopter was turned back,
because he was on his way to his daughter's important event.
Because the pilot didn't want to disappoint him,
to keep him happy, he decided to continue the flight on the same path.
Plan continuation bias,
is a bias where the pilot has decided at the beginning that he wants to take a certain route,
he wants to continue the plan.
This is known as the plan continuation bias.
It wasn't that some other person had pressured the pilot,
in this case, it was self-induced pressure.
Pressured by himself.
In Kobe Bryant's case, another disadvantage with IFR
was that it would've taken more time.
That's why the pilot decided to choose Visual Flight Rules in that case.
Now if we talk about General Rawat's crash,
something similar would likely happen.
Coonoor has clear weather generally.
But during winter, the weather may get foggy.
It rains or it gets cloudy.
It's possible that it happened suddenly.
Since they were flying over hilly areas, the chances of getting blocked by clouds are very high.
Especially the low-lying clouds.
The clouds on the lower altitude.
We got a viral post about this MI 17 V5 crash.
In this clip, you can see very clearly that the helicopter was flying at a low altitude.
And it flies into the clouds immediately,
and we can hear the crash a few seconds later.
For now, a Tri-Service inquiry has been ordered into the incident.
The Indian Airforce has recovered some critical equipment from this helicopter crash site.
The flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder.
These two are collectively known as the Black Box.
The flight data recorder measures several parameters
the altitude at which the helicopter was flying
the speed at which it was flying,
and the flight path it was on.
And the cockpit voice recorder,
records conversation among the crew,
the conversation of the pilots.
It reveals the decisions of the pilots and the conversations of the crew
before the accident.
With the help of these, the investigators would finally be able to tell
what happened exactly
that led to this crash.
The exact conclusion would be known only after this investigation.
This post is a small tribute to
General Bipin Lakshman Singh Rawat.
He was a four-star general in the Indian Army.
The first CDS: Cheif of Defence Staff of India.
In case you don't know, it is a recent position
created by the Indian government.
To coordinate all the wings of the Indian Armed Forces.
So that it could become a one-point advisor for the government
for all military-related matters.
This position was created to integrate the three services; Army, Airforce, and Navy.
And General Bipin Rawat became India's first Chief of Defence Staff
on 1st January 2020.
He was born in 1958 in Uttrakhand.
His father was a Lieutenant General.
And he joined the 11 Gorkha Rifles in 1978.
His father's military unit.
His specialization was in High Altitude Warfare and Counter-Insurgency Operations
One of the most famous missions at the beginning of his career,
was in the 1980s,
in India's military standoff with China.
He had commanded his battalion
on the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh.
India's first surgical strikes on foreign land
was in Myanmar.
He is credited for it,
for heading the mission.
Additionally, he was behind in the planning of the 2016 surgical strikes.
Other than this, General Rawat has been a part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force.
He had led a mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He was the recipient of many medals.
And perhaps you'll be surprised to know,
the Nepali Army has given him the honorary title of General.
And he is also included in the Hall of Fame in the United States Command.
Friends, if you find the life stories and the stories from the missions of our soldiers
to be interesting and inspiring,
then I would definitely recommend
the audiobook on Sam Manekshaw.
Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.
Another Braveheart of the Indian military.
He had played a very important role in the 1971 Indo-Pak War.
And I hope you found the post to be informative as always.
Thank you very much.