New Delhi/Mumbai: The chartered plane that crashed in Mumbai’s Ghatkopar on Thursday killing five people, including two pilots, did not have the mandatory certificate for airworthiness. The 12-seater aircraft was taken out for its first test flight after it last flew ten years ago in 2008.
A statement issued by the Civil Aviation Ministry on Thursday evening read, “The aircraft last flew on 22 Feb 2008 when it was with UP Govt. The aircraft was later bought by M/s UY Aviation in 2014.”
It added, “Thereafter, the aircraft was under maintenance for last one and a half years. Today was the first test flight of the aircraft upon completion of maintenance task before applying for grant of Certificate of Airworthiness/Airworthiness Review Certificate by DGCA.”
At 1 pm on Thursday, the King Air C90 plane crashed into an under-construction building at the Old Malik Estate near Ghatkopar telephone exchange. The accident in a residential area could have caused further damage had it landed up on any other building nearby.
According to eyewitnesses, Captain Marya Zuberi and Pradeep Singh Rajput steered the aircraft to a relatively empty spot, saving many lives. Captain Marya’s husband, P Kuthariya later told the media, “The incident could have been averted. Marya had told me that the flight won't be flown due to bad weather. The aviation company is responsible for this unfortunate incident.”
The aircraft had taken off from the Juhu airstrip on a test flight. It lost control when it was four nautical miles from Juhu, Air Traffic Control (ATC) sources said.
In its statement, the government has said, “As per the regulatory provisions, before any test flight, a certificate to the effect that the aircraft is fit for flight is required to be issued by the authorised certifying staff of the operator or MRO.”
It is learnt that the aircraft was not given this mandatory certificate before it was taken out for the test flight. Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu has asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to conduct an investigation into the plane crash.
Apart from the two pilots, aircraft engineer Surabhi Brijeshkumar Gupta, 34, technician Manish Tejpal Pande, 21 and pedestrian Govind Pandit were also killed in the mishap.
DGCA officials traced the Aircraft Voice Data Recorder (black box), which will help them piece together the events that led to the crash, an official said.
This was the second air accident in Maharashtra in two days after a Sukhoi Su-30M aircraft crashed near Nashik on Wednesday.