One person was injured when a Coast Guard helicopter crashed on Sunday just after takeoff from its enclave at the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) here, but the "presence of mind" of the pilot saved the lives of three persons onboard, a release said.
The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) said the ALH Mk III chopper CG 855, based in Kochi, took off from the enclave located inside CIAL complex at about 12.25 pm for "inflight checks after fitment of control rods" on the aircraft.
It said the chopper lost control when it was about 30-40 ft above the ground. However, the pilot showed "exemplary professionalism and presence of mind" with bare minimum controls and manoeuvred the aircraft away from blocking the main runway of the international airport, the ICG statement said "Prior to the inflight checks, HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) and ICG teams had carried out extensive and satisfactory ground trials," the ICG said. "Immediately after takeoff, when CG 855 was at about 30-40 ft above ground, the cyclic controls (which controls longitudinal and lateral movement of aircraft) did not respond." The pilot "cushioned the landing to the extent possible" in order to save the three persons on board, it added. One person has a minor injury in his hand, sources told PTI.
The chopper's rotors and airframe have been damaged, and an inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the crash.
Meanwhile, CIAL said airport operations were suspended for two hours after the Advanced Light Helicopter of the Coast Guard met with the accident.
"The ALH was removed from the operational area around 2 PM and the runway has been cleared substantially after safety inspections, and flight operations have been resumed," CIAL said in a statement.
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