Sohail’s accident the ‘first’ involving DA-40 aircraft being used by IGRUA since 2008

THE Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered an investigation into the Tuesday crash that led to the death of 19-year-old city-youngster Sohail Ansari.

Officials of Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Academy (IGRUA) to which Sohail belonged however said that he was a trained and tested pilot with 90 hours of flying experience. This was also not the first time he was flying solo, said Air Commodore T K Chatterjee, Chief Flying Instructor, IGRUA.

Sohail was on a navigation sortie on Tuesday when he went missing and his body was traced by the police in Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh, on Wednesday. His body is being taken to his native place in Uttar Pradesh for burial, relatives said.

Chatterjee said that Sohail took off from Gondia at 12.40 pm and was expected to return by 2.45 pm. "When there was no radio contact till 2.45 pm, overdue action was initiated. The transponder of his aircraft was in touch with Nagpur radar and the last contact with the radar was at 1.15 pm, after which he went untraceable," Chatterjee said adding, "He was trained and tested pilot. He was halfway through his training and this was not the first time he was flying solo."

While the reason that led to mishap is being probed, a quick look at the data available with IGRUA and the DGCA shows that this is arguably the first IGRUA operated DA- 40 aircraft crash, ever since the academy received the aircraft in 2008. According to data available on the website of Diamond Aircraft, the manufacturer, IGRUA is reported to have ordered 14 such aircraft after April 2008. IGRUA website too calls it "the newest addition to the fleet used for ab-initio flying training".

According to a popular global accident records website, the DA- 40 platform has had 51 accidents across the globe since 2003, in 18 of which, the aircraft was completely written off. Chatterjee however said that the fleet is "not grounded" and that it is too early to comment on the specific cause of the accident.

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