The pilots of Beech King Air C-90A air ambulance had a window of just about “ten seconds” to make the decision for crash-landing the ill-fated flight after both its engine had failed. Captain Amit Kumar, the man who piloted the aircraft and whose prompt decision-making saved the lives on board and avoided casualty on the ground yesterday, recalling the last moments said his aim was to ensure safety of people.
The air ambulance coming from Patna with a patient, who had suffered a brain stroke, and six others on board crash landed in Najafgarh area in south-west Delhi after both its engines shut down one after the other but all passengers escaped unhurt. Delhi was around 40 kms away when the first engine failed.
“The airplane had sufficient fuel. When the first engine collapsed, there was still possibility of making it to the airport, so we went ahead. “Within another eight to ten minutes, the second engine also failed. We were around 15 km away from the airport and now we new that we could not reach our destination,” Kumar told PTI.
“At that crucial moment, we did not have to think twice before turning right, which is towards Haryana. To our left was the crowded Najafgarh town,” Kumar told PTI. The airplane was flying at an altitude of less then 3,000 ft, for the pilots to have a closer look on the ground. However, they were in touch with the Air Traffic Control (ATC) throughout.
“We had ten more seconds to go when we spotted the field (located at Kair village in Najafgarh). There were no electric poles there and the closest village was nearly 100 metres away. The decision was taken,” he said.
Seconds after the touchdown, the aircraft bumped on a cemented plane in the field and its landing gear was shorn off. “My only aim was to ensure safety of the passengers and I am happy that I succeeded,” said the pilot, who has been piloting airplanes since 2011.
The 27-year-old six-seater aircraft had crash landed at around 2:40 PM on a field in Kair village in Najafgarh, about 10 km from the IGI Airport. The plane was co-piloted by Rohit Singh.
The police have registered a case of 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 337 (ausing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of IPC against unknown persons at Jafar Kalan Police Station in connection with the incident. 61-year-old patient Virender Rai, who was being flown to Delhi, was rushed to the Medanta hospital in Gurgaon immediately after the mishap.
The four other onboard included Rupesh (doctor), Jung Bahadur (aircraft technician), Juhi and Bhagwan Rai (both relatives of the patient), besides the pilot and the co-pilot. A small 20-year-old BSF plane had crashed near Dwarka in December last year in which all 10 people on board had been killled. A DGCA official said the final investigation into the matter will be conducted by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau.