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NEW DELHI: “Spatial disorientation” of the Mi-17 V5 pilots after entry into a cloud cover due to sudden bad weather led to the helicopter crash that killed chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 12 others last month, the IAF said on Friday.
The tri-Service court of inquiry, headed by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, has “ruled out mechanical failure, sabotage or negligence as a cause of the accident” of the twin-engine Mi-17 V5 chopper near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu on December 8. Making the first formal statement about the crash, which confirmed what TOI had reported earlier, IAF said the CoI has submitted its “preliminary findings” after analysing the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder (collectively called the black-box) and questioning all available witnesses to determine the most probable cause of 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 Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT). Based on its findings, the CoI has made certain recommendations which are being reviewed,” the IAF said.
An accident that takes place when a pilot loses situational awareness and unintentionally hits an obstacle — ground, mountain, tree or water body — despite being in full control of his helicopter or aircraft is called CFIT, as was reported by TOI earlier.

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