Ghatkopar plane crash | Co-pilot’s husband demands action against aviation company

Says aircraft took off despite unfavourable weather conditions

Ghatkopar plane crash | Co-pilot’s husband demands action against aviation company

Rescue workers, firemen and investigators at the site where the private plane crashed in Mumbai on June 28, 2018. (Photo: AFP)

Day after the Ghatkopar plane crash claimed five lives, allegations have surfaced that the test flight had been undertaken despite unfavourable weather conditions. The private aircraft on a test flight crashed into an under construction building at Ghatkopar in Mumbai on Thursday afternoon minutes after taking off from Juhu airstrip.

Among the five dead were pilot Capt Pradeep Rajput, co-pilot Capt Maria Zuberi, aircraft maintenance engineer Surabhi Gupta and junior technician Manish Pandey. The fifth person was a construction labourer, Govind Dubey, who was on the ground where the plane crashed.

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Advocate Prabhat Kathuria, husband of co-pilot Capt Maria Zuberi, has sought action against the company saying Maria had mentioned to him that the weather conditions were not suitable for the test flight for a small plane like Beechcraft King Air C90 aircraft but the company insisted on flying it.

Kathuria said he was still to come to terms with the loss.

In a statement issued here, he said, “The company involved in the ill-fated plane’s repairs seems to have been incapable of detecting the technical snags that could have led to its crash.”

Kathuria told the media he had a brief conversation with Maria before the plane took off, and that his wife told him that she had spoken to her seniors about the situation.

“She left the house assuring me she would return rather soon as the weather conditions were clearly not right for a test flight of a small plane such as the Beachcraft King Air twin turboprop,” he said in the statement.

“She was sure that the permission to undertake such a flight would not be given,” the statement read.

“Considering Captain (Pradip) Rajput held and shared the same view with Marya, I was confident they would not fly this day. The weather conditions were just not right,” he said.

Kathuria also questioned if the aircraft was fit to fly.

“We know that the aircraft was well beyond its prime. We know it was more than 20 years old. We know it had already had an accident in 2009 and that the UP government chose to sell it rather than spend on its repairs. Considering all… the family of Marya Zuberi wants answers. We want to know who exactly was at fault,” he said.

Kathuria said UY Aviation, the owners of the aircraft, “seem to have completely disregarded their responsibility to check whether such a plane should go off the ground”.

Pointing out that the DGCA norms do not permit test flights of small planes in the rainy weather, Kathuria asked who allowed the flight to take off in the first place.

“Did officers within the agency allow the flight, that clearly flouted its own norms? We want to know who took the call from DGCA’s side,” he said.

Kathuria also said neither government agencies nor the owner of the aircraft had contacted the family members of the victims since the crash.

“So far the government structures and the companies have both failed us… The families of the victims are still to receive a word from any of these agencies,” he said.

Calling their action “irresponsible”, Kathuria has sought strict action against the aviation company.

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Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who visited the crash site on Thursday and assured all necessary assistance from the government, has taken note of Kathuria’s allegations and said the truth would come out after investigation, and culprits would not be spared.

Quoting the CM, Mumbailive.com has said in a report that if what Kathuria claimed was true this was an act of negligence by UY Aviation as no company had the right to put the life of its employees in danger.

It was a test flight for the ill fated King Air C-90 12-seater aircraft that had taken off from the Juhu airstrip. It lost control 4 nautical miles from Juhu, according to the Air Traffic Control (ATC) sources. The test flight was undertaken to avail an Airworthy Certificate for the aircraft that had been earlier issued a temporary certificate to fly.

The aircraft had been reportedly undergoing repairs and maintenance work for the last one year.