The National Aeronautical Laboratories Saras, India’s first Indian multi-purpose light civilian transport aircraft crashed at Bangalore today.
VT-XRM departed HAL airport at 14:55 (09:25Z) for an “engine off” test with a crew of three. HAL ATC lost contact with the aircraft at 15:30 (10:00Z) and reports the plane crashing were received at 15:40 (10:10Z).
The crash site is in a barren deserted area at 252 radial BBG VOR at 17nm DME, this is near Bidadi and the Wonder La theme park on Mysore Road.
As per eyewitnesses in the vicinity of the crash, the aircraft turned abruptly and started losing height. After a couple of somersaults in mid-air, it crashed.
Wing Commander K. Praveen (pilot), Wing Commander Dipesh K. Shah (co-pilot), Squadron Leader S. Ilyaraja (flight engineer), perished in the crash. The aircraft was completely destroyed.
Praveen (35) was a resident of Bangalore, Ilyaraja (33) was from Villupuram in Tamil Nadu and Shah (34) was a native of Mumbai. This is the same team, and the same aircraft (prototype 2) which performed at the recent Aero India 2009 show, from where the picture is taken.
Villagers from Seshagiri village near the crash site, were all praise for the pilots for their presence of mind.
“They averted a major disaster and saved several lives. The pilots sensed the danger and were searching for a vacant plot for safe landing. That’s why they took two rounds, but it came down crashing.”
“Hats off to the pilots for their presence of mind at the time of crisis. There are more than three petrol pumps and hundreds of houses in the vicinity. Imagine the magnitude of the tragedy had the aircraft crashed in the village.”
Bangalore Aviation salutes the three brave souls. Tailwinds and blue skies!!!!!