‘CHOPPER RESCUE WAS ONE-OFF MISSION’

Defence not too keen on sending its helicopters to burning buildings

Mumbai : The Chetak helicopter rescue operation at the burning Lotus Business Park in Andheri was a milestone mission on the part of the Indian Coast Guard. This was a one-of-its-kind operation, as never before has a defence helicopter carried out a rescue operation from a burning building successfully.

Should this incident translate into the fact that defence services will incorporate special training for their pilots to rescue people from burning skyscrapers? As it turns out, they are not considering it as a part of their training.

A defence source told FPJ on the condition of anonymity that defence helicopter pilots are not necessarily trained to carry out rescue operations at burning buildings and it is not their charter of duty. There are many technicalities that go into a helicopter arriving at a burning building and carrying out the operation from start to finish.

Factors such as wind speed, direction of wind, intensity of the flames and density of the smoke are crucial when considering undertaking such an operation.

Regarding the rescue operation at Lotus Business Park, the source said, “At the Lotus building mission the miscellaneous factors were in favour of the pilots, it was a display of bravery and skill on their part but it could not have been completed successfully if other conditions were against them.

“Defence pilots are trained to carry out much more taxing tasks like landing their aircraft or choppers on moving ships at sea. These missions require more expertise as compared to rescue missions from burning buildings. Defence pilots have their basic training in place, which enables them to carry out these occasional off-beat missions; hence the defence is not looking at including fire rescue missions as a special part of their training process.’’

Adele Macdonald

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