Express press service
RAIPUR: In a tragic incident, Chhattisgarh State helicopter Augusta Westland AW-109 crashed while landing on the runway at Swami Vivekanand Airport in Raipur, leaving the pilot and co-pilot died Thursday evening.
The lead pilot, Captain Gopal Kumar Panda, and co-pilot, Captain AP Shrivastava, died of serious injuries sustained in the crash. Both pilots were taken to a private hospital where doctors said they were dead. There were no passengers on board.
According to preliminary information, the state helicopter was on a night flight, when it crashed before landing, apparently due to a technical problem on the runway. All departures/arrivals flights have been suspended at the airport.
According to eyewitnesses, it was with great difficulty that the two pilots were extracted from the damaged helicopter. While the lead pilot died instantly, the co-pilot succumbed to his injuries while being taken to hospital.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel expressed his grief. “In this tragic incident, our two pilots, Captain Panda and Captain Srivastava, died. May God give enough strength to their family members and peace to the soul of the deceased in this time of mourning,” a- he said in a tweet.
Airport authorities were reluctant to make a statement about the incident. An airport officer not authorized to speak to the media said it was an investigation as neither the weather conditions nor the night landing facility at the airport can be blamed. “This is the first such incident that has happened overnight. The director general of civil aviation and the state government will investigate the incident,” he added.