The inquiry will be completed expeditiously and facts will be brought out, the IAF said in a tweet.

Rescue officials at the spot where an IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter crashed in Coonoor
news Chopper crash Friday, December 10, 2021 - 13:49

The Indian Air Force on Friday, December 9, cautioned against ‘uninformed speculation’ over the tragic helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu two days ago that killed 13 people including Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and his wife. “IAF has constituted a tri-service Court of Inquiry to investigate the cause of the tragic helicopter accident on 08 Dec 21. The inquiry would be completed expeditiously & facts brought out. Till then, to respect the dignity of the deceased, uninformed speculation may be avoided,” the IAF tweeted. 

Investigators on Thursday recovered the black box of the military helicopter that crashed in a hilly terrain near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu, hoping to get vital clues on the possible cause of the disaster that will be probed by a high level tri-services inquiry. As Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced in Parliament that the inquiry into the Wednesday crash would be headed by Air Marshal Manavendra Singh, official sources said the lone survivor Group Captain Varun Singh was airlifted to Bengaluru for "better treatment" at the IAF Command hospital. Varun Singh, who is on life support, was undergoing treatment at a hospital in Wellington, about six km near the crash site in the Nilgiris district.

Besides Gen Rawat, his wife Madhulika and Brigadier L S Lidder, 10 armed forces personnel were killed in the crash of the Mi-17V5 helicopter. There were 14 people on board the ill-fated chopper. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the country's top military brass paid homage to the victims after their bodies were brought to Delhi in a military aircraft.

Also read: CDS Rawat chopper crash: Tourists who filmed final moments of helicopter speak 

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, NSA Ajit Doval, Army Chief General MM Naravane, Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar, Air Chief Marshal AVR Chaudhari, and Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar were among those who paid homage at a sombre ceremony.

The Chief of Defence Staff had left the Palam airbase in an IAF Embraer aircraft at 8:47 am and landed at Sulur air base at 11:34 am. He took off from Sulur in a Mi-17V5 chopper at around 1148 am for Wellington, official sources said. The chopper crashed at around 12:20 pm, they said, adding it was to land at Wellington at around 12:15 pm.

"All angles including possible human error will be investigated," a senior military offcial said.

Also read: Officer killed in Coonoor crash saved lives during Kerala flood

Air Marshal Manavendra Singh, who is heading the tri-services team investigating the tragic chopper crash near Coonoor, is a helicopter pilot and oversaw probes into various air accidents involving IAF platforms.

Several former and serving military commanders described Air Marshal Singh, currently heading the Bengaluru-headquartered Training Command of the IAF, as the "best" available air crash investigator in the country.

Before taking the reins of the Training Command, the Air Marshal was the Director General (Inspection and Safety) at the Air headquarters and developed various protocols for flight safety while serving in the post. 

In a distinguished career spanning over 38 years, the Air Officer has flown a wide variety of helicopters and trainer aircraft. He is a qualified flying instructor with vast instructional experience and over 6600 hours of accident-free flying in various challenging sectors like the Siachen, the Northeast, Uttarakhand, the Western desert and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Also read: 'It's ok to be mediocre': Group Captain Varun Singh had written to students

The Air Marshal has also served in tri-service joint institutions and was Assistant Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Joint Operations) at the headquarters of Integrated Defence Staff.

With PTI inputs

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