Two pilots are missing after a Pawan Hans helicopter crashed off the coast of Mumbai on Wednesday evening. There were no passengers on board the helicopter when the accident took place.
The chopper crashed at around 7:30 pm while carrying out night landing practice at Bombay High, a mid-sea oil rig run by Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of India (ONGC). ONGC hires Pawan Hans helicopters to ferry its officials from Mumbai to its offshore oilfield.
The 14-seater VTPWF Dauphin aircraft of 2001-make took off from the ONGC installation at 7:12 PM and contact with it was lost eight minutes later, a top official of the state-run Pawan Hans said.
The Navy and Coast Guard, who have launched search and rescue operations, have sighted a door of the aircraft, according to Press Trust of India.
Two Navy's Immediate Support Vessels - ISVS T50 and T48 - are at the area where the accident took place. ONGC vessels have also been pressed into service. A naval destroyer, INS Mumbai, with a helicopter on board, has also reached the area to assist in the operations. One Coast Guard ship and Dornier aircraft have also joined the search. Visibility in the area is poor due to morning haze.
In order to augment the search, a night capable helicopter Seaking C is being launched, while a second helicopter will be placed on standby, a defence spokesman said. The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) has located beacon signals for the helicopter.
Pawan Hans Limited is a government owned company with 46 helicopters in its fleet. It primarily provides helicopter support services to the oil sector for its off-shore exploration operations and services in remote and hilly areas and charter services to promote tourism.
In August this year, a Pawan Hans helicopter had crashed in Arunachal Pradesh. Three people including the two pilots died in that accident.