NEW DELHI: The pilots of Beech King Air C-90A air ambulance had a window of just about "fifteen seconds" to make the decision for crash-landing the ill-fated flight after both its engines had failed.
Captain Amit Kumar, the man who piloted the aircraft and whose prompt decision-making saved the lives on board and avoided casualty on the ground yesterday, recalling the last moments said his aim was to ensure safety of people.
The air ambulance coming from Patna with a patient, who had suffered a brain stroke, and six others on board crash landed in Najafgarh area in south-west Delhi after both its engines shut down one after the other but all passengers escaped unhurt.
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Delhi was around 40 kms away when the first engine failed.
"I had an option of landing in an open field. Had the second engine of the air ambulance failed a minute later, we would have crashed upon any residential colony. But, God was kind to us that we had time to maneuver the aircraft," Kumar told ABP News.
"We were 20-30 miles away from our destination when we got the first indication of engine failure. All the instruments of aircraft's left engine stopped functioning. It took us time to understand the reason for engine failure. After that, we were flying on one engine. We informed the ATC ( Air Traffic Control) and passengers that we might have to crash land", Kumar said
"When we are at 7-8 miles, our second engine stopped working. That was a crucial point. Had that failed a minute later, the story would have been different. We spotted an open field where there were no electric poles or trees. We had only that chance as we could not fly further. The decision was taken at taken at that moment," he added.
"We had 15 seconds to decide when to land, identify the location and to perform the landing. It was a well calculated risk," Kumar further said.
The airplane was flying at an altitude of less then 3,000 ft, for the pilots to have a closer look on the ground.
However, they were in touch with the Air Traffic Control (ATC) throughout.
Seconds after the touchdown, the aircraft bumped on a cemented plane in the field and its landing gear was shorn off.
"My only aim was to ensure safety of the passengers and I am happy that I succeeded," said the pilot, who has been flying airplanes since 2011.
The 27-year-old six-seater aircraft had crash landed at around 2:40 PM on a field in Kair village in Najafgarh, about 10 km from the IGI Airport here.
The plane was co-piloted by Rohit Singh.
Meanwhile, a posse of police personnel remain deployed atthe site today as the aircraft was inspected by multiple agencies, probing the technical causes behind the crash landing.
The police have registered a case of 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 337 (ausing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of IPC against unknown persons at Jafar Kalan Police Station in connection with the incident.
61-year-old patient Virender Rai, who was being flown to Delhi, was rushed to the Medanta hospital in Gurgaon immediately after the mishap.
The four other onboard included Rupesh (doctor), Jung Bahadur (aircraft technician), Juhi and Bhagwan Rai (both relatives of the patient), besides the pilot and the co-pilot.
A small 20-year-old BSF plane had crashed near Dwarka in December last year in which all 10 people on board had been killled.
A DGCA official said the final investigation into the matter will be conducted by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau.
(with inputs from PTI)