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Steady-handed pilot averts crash after Indian Coast Guard chopper's engine shuts off mid-air

The Indian Coast Guards Chetak helicopter was carrying out a sortie near Murud Janjira on Saturday when all of a sudden its engine stopped at an altitude of 400 feet over the sea.

The chopper, from its Mumbai base, was flying with four passengers, including deputy commandant Balwinder Singh, assistant commandant Penny Choudhary and two divers Sandeep and Baljeet.

With the chopper freezing over the sea at a very low altitude, pilot Balwinder Singh showed great courage and presence of mind which helped in not only saving the important national asset in the Chetak helicopter but also the precious lives of three fellow passengers in the chopper, a coast guard official said.

When the engine shut mid air, Balwinder used the rotors movement to glide the chopper towards the shore to prevent it from falling in the sea and prevent it from drowning in water, the official added.

The pilot tried to land the chopper on the sandy part of the beach but could not and the chopper landed on a rocky patch on Nadagram beach.

Officials said due to the pilots glided landing, the air frame and both the rotors of the chopper did not undergo much damage and can be used by the force after carrying out minor repairs such as oil leakage that has been detected from some part of it.

Officials said though the pilot joined the Coast Guard only around six years ago in December 2011, he is considered to be a veteran in flying choppers.

Soon after landing safely, the four air crew waited for sometime inside the chopper as the rotor was still moving outside. Officials said as per reports, copilot Penny Chaudhary was the first person to have disembarked from the chopper but she was hit on her helmet by the rotor blade which was moving slowly.

The lady pilot, who also helped her senior land the chopper safely, fell down after bring hit on the rocky surface and suffered injuries on her head. She is undergoing treatment at INHS Ashwini hospital.

The main pilot and the two divers are also under observation at the hospital where they are being monitored for any injuries or shockrelated issues.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard and the helicopters licensed manufacturer in India HAL have started investigations into the mishap to ascertain how the engine could shut down in the middle of a flight.

An official said the helicopter is being shifted by the Coast Guard to its air enclave in Daman where a team of HAL engineers and technicians would carry out the required checks before giving it permission to resume operational flying.

The Indian Coast Guard has a fleet of only 19 Chetak helicopters which are used for quick search and rescue operations along the countrys coastline and island territories.

The force also uses the indigenous twinengined ALH Dhruv choppers which are getting inducted in service in substantial numbers as 16 of them would join the force.

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