Staff at India's Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) are boycotting locally operated Mil Mi-172 helicopters believing them to be unsafe, says an action committee formed to represent ONGC employees. The decision follows the recent crash of a 30-seat Mi-172 off the coast of India, killing all 29 passengers and crew. The aircraft had departed from Juhu airfield in Mumbai and was flying over the Arabian Sea between oil rigs when the accident occurred.

India's petroleum ministry had chartered the helicopter from Mesco Airlines. ONGC is reported to have advised against using the aircraft due to maintenance concerns.

ONGC plans to form a helicopter division with over 20 aircraft. "After the accident, many people feel boarding a hired chopper is risky, so operating our own helicopters is not a bad idea," says ONGC.

An independent inquiry into the cause of the crash is under way. ONGC has been asked to draw up an emergency plan to strengthen safety measures for air transport to and from India's offshore oil fields.

Source: Flight International