VVIPs who flew to death

PTI | Byhindustantimes.com
May 21, 2003 04:53 PM IST

Death of Lok Sabha Speaker GMC Balayogi and senior Cong leader Madhavrao Scindia in plane crashes reinvigorated the age-old debate on air safety in India.

Pakistan Air Chief Mushaf Ali:

HT Image
HT Image

A Pakistan air force Fokker aircraft carrying Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali and 16 other passengers crashed in northern Kohat district on February 20, 2003. The air chief was on his way to Kohat to inspect an air base, when the Fokker, twin turboprop aircraft crashed. Mystery shrouds the air chief's death with conspiracy theory doing the rounds in Pakistan ever since his death. An official report said that the crash could be a sabotage.

Mir was considered to be an experienced F-16 fighter pilot before he took over the command of Pakistan's Southern Air Command.

Hansie Cronje:

Former South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje died when his plane crashed into a mountain in George in June, 2002. The two pilots of the plane were also killed in the mishap. A South African newspaper "Beeld" reported on April 12, 2003 that the crash occurred because of faulty landing instruments at George airport.

According to investigations have revealed that poor maintenance of instruments arising out of cost-cutting decisions could have contributed to the plane from Johannesburg, the newspaper said.

An official report of the investigation into the mishap is expected in August, 2003. Results of tests being conducted in Britain are still awaited.

GMC Balayogi:

Lok Sabha Speaker GMC Balayogi was killed alongwith two others when the five-seater private helicopter carrying him crashed in Krishna district on March 1, 2002.

REASONS: The crash was attributed mainly to the mechanical failure and thick fog. But a series of security lapses concerning VVIPs air travel also came to came to light after the tragedy. A Lok Sabha speaker has been placed fourth in the top protocol list after the President, the Vice-President and the Prime Minister.

As per the security rules, a VVIP is allowed to fly only in a 7-seater aircraft with two pilots and his Chief Security Officer (CSO). But Balayogi was flying in a 5-seater chopper and was not accompanied by his CSO.

No parachutes were available in the chopper which could have saved Balayogi's life had he jumped after the crash seemed imminent.

No VVIP is supposed to sit by the side of the pilot but Balayogi did the same. To cap it all, there was no technical engineer on board to deall with any emergency situation.

Madhavrao Scindia:

Maharaja Scindia and seven others died a tragic death when the small aircraft he was travelling in caught fire in the air and exploded after hitting the ground in 2001.

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