Two international flights scheduled to arrive at the Cochin International Airport on Sunday afternoon were diverted to Thiruvananthapuram after the runway was rendered briefly inoperational following a forced landing of a Coast Guard helicopter on a test flight.

The incident involved an ALH Dhruv Mark 3 helicopter of the Indian Coast Guard as the pilots prepared to take off. The chopper was airborne at around 35 feet height when it had to make a forced landing.

An official spokesman was quoted in Kochi as saying that immediately after the takeoff of the CG 855 chopper, the cyclic controls (which control the longitudinal and lateral movement of the aircraft) failed to respond.

Pilot cushions landing

Left with no option but to operate with bare minimum controls, the pilot manoeuvred the chopper away from the main runway to avoid blocking the runway at the international airport.

He cushioned the landing to the extent possible to save the three souls, including himself, onboard. The chopper veered to the left and crashed onto the left side of the main runway. All crew is safe, the Coast Guard spokesman said.

The chopper has sustained damage to its rotors and airframe. An inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of the accident.

Meanwhile, a spokesman of the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport said that the two flights diverted from Kochi include an IndiGo flight from Male and an Oman Air flight from Muscat. The airport here is in a state of preparedness to receive the two incoming, diverted flights, he added.