Major General Bipin Rawat’s chopper crashed due to Pilot Disorientation. According to the recent probe report, sudden change in the weather condition led to Spatial Disorientation of the pilot which resulted in Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT)- the Indian Air Force (IAF) said on January 14.

The chopper was carrying General Bipin Rawat, his wife, one army brigadier and ten others to the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) in Wellington before it crashed into a heavily wooded area of the Coonoor ghat in the Nilgiris in western Tamil Nadu.


The Court of Inquiry, in its preliminary findings, ruled out the possibilities of technical failure or sabotage. With the reports submitted by IAF, changing weather and spatial disorientation of the pilot has been held responsible for the mishap.

The tri-services inquiry into the Mi-17 V5 helicopter that killed Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat recently submitted its preliminary findings. The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder played a major role in the investigation of the December 8 tragedy. They have been studied in great detail to uncover the exact reason behind the mishap.

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The Detailed Findings by the IAF and Court of Inquiry

In its preliminary inquiry, the Court of Inquiry of the three agencies has determined that the accident was caused by a mechanical malfunction, damage, or negligence.

However, according to the data presented by the Indian Air Force, the accident took place as a consequence of a rapid change in weather, which caused the sudden emergence of clouds. As the helicopter flew into the clouds, the pilot became disoriented about his flight path leading to spatial disorientation. The Court of Inquiry has also made several suggestions based on the facts discovered in the inquiry, which are presently being examined.

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IAF Issues Statement About its Findings

“The Court of Inquiry (CoI) has ruled out mechanical failure, sabotage or negligence as a cause of the accident. The accident was a result of entry into clouds due to unexpected change in weather conditions in the valley. This led to spatial disorientation of the pilot resulting in CFIT,” the IAF said in a statement. “Based on its findings, the CoI has made certain recommendations which are being reviewed.”

The inquiry findings which were sent for legal vetting before the submission to the Defence Ministry indicated CFIT as the reason for the crash.

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What is CFIT?

CFIT or Controlled Flight into Terrain is defined as an unintentional collision with terrain (the ground, a mountain, a body of water, or an obstacle) while an aircraft is under positive control by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. “Most often, the pilot or crew is unaware of the looming disaster until it is too late. CFIT most commonly occurs in the approach or landing phase of flight,”- mentioned in an FAA Fact Sheet.

The helicopter was being flown by Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan and Squadron Leader Kuldeep Singh.


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