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Two pilots killed in Indian plane crash


Fire and police personnel look at the debris of the aircraft which crashed in Jugiana village near Ludhiana on Wednesday, killing its pilot and co-pilot. PTI Photo

LUDHIANA (BNS): A Beechcraft plane operated by the government of the north Indian state of Punjab crashed while landing at the Sahnewal airport near the industrial hub of Ludhiana on Wednesday morning killing both the pilots.

The Beechcraft King Air C-90 aircraft had undergone major overhaul and had taken off on a trial flight from Punjab's capital Chandigarh at 10.50 am. It was scheduled to land at Sahnewal airfield.

The aircraft could never make it to the destination as it went out of control before going down around 20 km short of the airfield. Its wreckage was strewn near Jugiana village. Being a trial flight there were no passengers onboard.

Captain Abhay Chandra, chief flying officer of the Punjab government, has been reported by agencies as saying that it was difficult to ascertain the cause of the accident, as there was no distress call from the pilots to the ground controllers.

The aircraft is 1982 model and was out of service for four years. It had undergone repairs at New Delhi before joining back the flying wing of Punjab government after getting necessary clearance from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The plane was meant to ferry top functionaries of the state government on official assignments. The state government has been facing problems with its fleet as its chartered helicopters from state-run company Pawan Hans have developed snags on several occasions.

Officials claimed that both the pilots, Manjit Singh Khokar and KK Kataria were experienced. While Khokar had logged 5,000 flying hours, Kataria had flown 3,000 hours. They had handled bigger planes including Boeing 747s.

Beechcraft King Air is a reliable aircraft and is used extensively all over the world. The twin-engine aircraft comes in various variant. The one that crashed in Punjab was a six-seater. Several state governments in India use this type of aircraft. Officials hint that the crash could be linked to the problems in the repairs that were carried out in New Delhi.

The DGCA would carry out the probe and efforts were on to retrieve the black box and flight data recorder. India does not have a large number of small aircraft as aviation witnessed boom only recently. But several leading manufacturers of small aircraft hope that India would see a big demand of these aircraft.


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