ONGC Helicopter Crash: Pawan Hans deployed a brand new Sikorsky S-76 chopper

ONGC employees were travelling in a brand new, one of six Sikorsky S-76D helicopters that Pawan Hans had recently leased from the Milestone Aviation Group.

ONGC Helicopter Crash: Pawan Hans deployed a brand new Sikorsky S-76 chopper

An ONGC helicopter on the way to the Sagar Kiran rig in Arabian Sea crashed on Tuesday (June 28) killing 4 out of 9 onboard the chopper. The chopper went down around 1145 hrs, just 1 nautical mile away from Sagar Kiran, but managed to stay afloat with the help of the attached floaters. Rescuers, including vessel Malviya-16 and a speed boat from the rig managed to pull out all 9 people on board the ill fated chopper, but 4 of them were declared dead after being transferred to hospital by a Navy helicopter. The chopper was carrying ONGC employees, along with two pilots. 

As per a report on PTI, ONGC employees were travelling in a brand new, one of six Sikorsky S-76D helicopters that Pawan Hans had recently leased from the Milestone Aviation Group. The Sikorsky S-76 is the same generation of helicopter in which Basketball star Kobe Bryant died in 2020. However, the helicopter he was riding was the S-76B as against the S-76D of ONGC.

The chopper was about 4-5 minutes away from its destination - ONGC's Sagar Kiran rig - when the incident took place. The circumstances that led to the incident were not immediately known but western offshore had inclement weather and there was a swell in the sea. Officials said ONGC has already instituted an inquiry into the incident. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is also likely to order a separate inquiry.

Detailing sequence, officials said the chopper took off from Juhu helibase this morning just like any other day but 1 or 1.5 km from the landing zone on the rig, it went down into the sea. It, however, managed to stay afloat with floaters fitted on such helicopters going offshore. "What we don't know is if the helicopter toppled during the float," an official said.

On first information, ONGC and Navy scrambled vessels for the rescue. A high-speed boat from Sagar Kiran rig was first to reach the spot. In a matter of 90-100 minutes, all personnel were pulled out.

While vessel Malviya-16 rescued four persons, one person was pulled out by rescue boat from Sagar Kiran rig. Navy choppers airlifted four unconscious persons to hospitals in Mumbai, the official said. The helicopter sank soon after.

A multi-support vessel (MSV) is already at the spot, trying to salvage the helicopter wreckage, he said, adding divers too are at the spot. ONGC has key oil and gas fields off the Mumbai coast and Pawan Hans helicopters routinely ferry company employees and officers to the oil installations that are situated as far as 160 kilometres from the coastline.

The helicopter crash is not the first accident in ONGC's history. In August 2003, a Mi-172 helicopter crashed off the Mumbai coast, killing 27 people and the pilot on board.

On January 13, 2018, a Pawan Hans helicopter with seven people on board, including five ONGC officers and two pilots, crashed off the Mumbai coast minutes after it took off for the state-owned company's oil installation in the Arabian Sea. All seven died.

In 2002, a Dauphin helicopter hired by ONGC crashed into the sea but the 10 passengers were rescued.

In April 2003, a Bell 412 helicopter ferrying ONGC personnel crashed while landing at the Juhu aerodrome.

"#SAR #RescueAtSea All nine survivors rescued. Four survivors picked by OSV Malviya 16, one by boat of Sagar Kiran oil rig & two each by #IndianNavy ALH & Seaking helicopters. Four critical survivors being evacuated to Juhu by Navy helicopters for management at @ONGC_ hospital," PRO Defence, Mumbai, tweeted.

With PTI inputs

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