Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Dhruv Flight Safety Record

One IAF and one IA Dhruvs have been involved in accidents since March 18, 2016.

  1. One IA ALH crashed in eastern Ladakh on September 5, 2017, afternoon shortly after take-off. According to ToI sources, the pilots reported "loss of the right rudder (which controls the tail rotor)" soon after getting airborne.
  2. One IAF ALH based at Tezpur went missing on July 4, 2017, while carrying out an HADR mission near Itanagar.
According to the ToI, the IA alone has recorded at least 20 Dhruve accidents since 2002.

As on March 18, 2016, since 2002, 14 military and 2 civil Dhruv helicopters have been involved in accidents, out of which 11 occurred in India and 5 abroad. Out of 16 accidents, 12 occurred due to human error & environmental factors and the remaining 4 occurred due to technical reasons. [via PIB]

The entire fleet has been grounded a few times due to technical snags in the past, which included being found unsuitable for multi-role requirements due to excess weight and limited engine power.

According to MoD (July 2015), since the induction of the helicopter in AFs in the year 2001, 08 (Eight) major accidents have taken place, all of which, have been investigated by a Court of Inquiry as per extant instructions. Necessary modifications/upgradations have been carried out, on the basis of past experience, to cater to Defense Forces’ requirements. [via PIB]

The following is an incomplete listing of Dhruv crashes.
  1. One IAF ALH crashed near Sitapur of Lucknow area at about 1657 hrs on July 25, 2014. The Helicopter was airborne from Bareilly at 1553 hrs and was on a mission to Allahabad. The Pilot gave a 'mayday' call and soon after that, there was a loss of contact on radar and on the radio. A total of seven air warriors including two pilots were on board. There were no survivors.
  2. In February 2014, an ALH Dhruv chopper exported to Ecuador crashed in Ecuador killing three people on board.
  3. A Dhruv crash-landed in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district on February 28, 2010 while rehearsing for ‘Vayu Shakti’ air power exercise. The helicopter was part of the Sarang helicopter display team of the IAF; the team was rehearsing for a display on the opening day of the exercise. The two pilots escaped unhurt after making an emergency landing.
  4. A Dhruv crashed during a military parade in Ecuador in October 2009 injuring its two Ecuadorian pilots. The Dhruv was one of the five helicopters sold to Ecuador in March 2009. The accident took place at Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport during formation flying along with two other helicopters. The crew, who were trained in India, managed to get out of the crashed helicopter on their own and were taken to a hospital.
  5. A Dhruv ALH of the Sarang display team crashed at Air Force Station Yelahanka in February 2007 killing one of its pilots and badly injuring the other.
  6. In November 2005, an ALH being ferried to Jharkhand crashed near Hyderabad after the tail rotor sheared off. Following the crash, the Indian Armed Forces grounded the Dhruv fleet; the crash was eventually attributed to the use of date expired resin in the composite tail rotor.
  7. In November 2004 an ALH delivered to the Royal Nepal Army experienced a hard landing damaging its undercarriage and landing gear. 

Ecuadorian Air Force Crashes

In October 2016 it was reported that the Ecuadorian Air Force has moved to sell the three remaining Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Dhruv utility helicopters out of the seven it purchased between 2009 and 2012. T

Ecuador's Defence Minister Ricardo Patino announced the decision on October 20, 2016, IHS Jane's Defense Weekly reported.

Four out of the 7 Dhruvs delivered to the Ecuadorian Air Force were involved in crashes. Two of the crashes (enumerated above) resulted in the helicopter being written off. Of the four crashes, 2 were attributed to pilot error and 2 to mechanical failure.