Trainee pilot Himani Kalyani was just an hour short of completing the mandated 200-hour flying to get a commercial pilot licence when her aircraft crashed, killing her and her instructor.
The crash took place at 0940 hours after one of the engines of the aircraft, DA42, got stuck in a rope-way, barely 20 minutes of its take-off from the Birsi Airport in Gondia district of Maharashtra.
Twenty-four-year-old Ms Kalyani, from Karnal in Haryana, had completed 199 hours of flying training from the Gondia-based National Flying Training Institute (NFTI).
She was on the final sortie on the multi-engine DA42 aircraft, which crashed into river Wainganga near Gondia.
“Kalyani was all set to complete her flying training with today’s sortie. She was soon expected to join a private commercial airline as pilot,” a source said.
Her instructor, Capt Ranjan Gupta, a retired wing commander of the Indian Air Force, was a senior flying instructor with around 4,000 hours of flying experience, they said.
45-year-old Mr Gupta, a native of Kolkata, also died in the crash of the 4-seater twin-engine aircraft. He is survived by his wife and two children, a son and a daughter, both in school.
A flying instructor at another training academy, who had known Mr Gupta and worked with him, described him as “the best fauji I have ever known”.
“He was very experienced and a great man. Don’t know how it happened,” the FI, who did not want to be named, said. The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau, a wing of the Civil Aviation Ministry, has launched a probe into the accident, according to sources.
The bureau is mandated to probe all serious incidents and accidents involving Indian planes. The trainer aircraft was flying at a height lower than the one permitted by the ATC, they said.
“The ATC had permitted the aircraft to fly at around 4,000-5,000 feet but it was at a much lower altitude. The aircraft had apparently developed a snag and for this reason the pilot was perhaps attempting a safe landing.
“However, in the process, one of its engines got stuck in a rope-way, which connects Deori village with Laoni ghat on the Wainganga river, resulting in the crash,” the official said.
Meanwhile, a senior DGCA official said every year there are around 10-20 reports of incidents involving damage to the aircraft from flying clubs/academies.
“These incidents include damage to component system (of the aircraft), sometimes accruing from ill-maintenance,” the official said, maintaining that casualties have been rarely reported over the last few years.