Indian armed forces have reportedly grounded the Dhruv helicopters after the chopper crash landed in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday (5 May).
This is the second time that the helicopters manufactured by defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has been grounded this year.
On Friday, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) made Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) crashed in Jammu and Kashmir's Kishtwar district.
CFN Pabballa Anil, who was serving as a technician among the three individuals aboard the ALH Dhruv, unfortunately passed away due to injuries sustained during the incident. On the other hand, the two pilots also suffered injuries but are reportedly safe.
According to a statement released by the Northern Command, "At about 1115 hours on 04 May 2023, an Army Aviation ALH Dhruv helicopter on an operational mission made a precautionary landing on the banks of Marua river in the Kishtwar region of Jammu and Kashmir".
"The pilots have reported a technical fault to the Air Traffic Control (ATC) and proceeded for a precautionary landing. However, due to undulating grounds, undergrowth and unprepared landing area, the helicopter apparently made a hard landing," the statement further said.
A Court of Inquiry (COI) has been ordered by the Army and immediate rescue operations were launched and the army rescue teams have reached the site.
The crash comes just two days after the Dhruv ALH had been allowed to resume normal operations after a two-month-long fleet-wide grounding.
The grounding came after two successive crashes, of the Dhruv helicopters within three weeks of each other in March.
In the first incident, one Indian Navy Naval Dhruv made a controlled ditching at sea off the coast of Mumbai on 8 March, after a sudden loss of power. This was followed by another crash of a Coast Guard Dhruv helicopter at the Cochin International Airport on March 26
Incidentally, the Coast Guard helicopter was on a test flight after extensive maintenance and ground checks.
Extensive tests were conducted, and according to a report, the fleet was assessed as safe to fly. The report states, "Extensive checks on the entire fleet of helicopters, also in service with the Army and Air Force, were under-taken and no signs of any deep-rooted issue with the aircraft were found".
Reportedly, both helicopters crashed due to failure of controls. Both the crashes were maintenance-related and additional training has been given to maintenance crews to prevent similar incidents in the future.
"In one case, the crash happened due to improper fitment of washers and in the second case, two similar control rods were interchanged at the time of maintenance," which resulted in the failure of controls leading to sudden loss of power.
The report further stated, "Following the crashes, the entire fleet was assessed by technical teams and no red flags have been raised after thorough checks. Additional training is being given to crews to ensure such issues do not come up again".
The Made In India ALH Dhruv is a twin-engine, multi-role, multi-mission, new-generation helicopter of 5.5-tonne weight class. More than 300 helicopters are in-service in the Army, Air-Force, Navy and Coast Guard.
It has various variants including the armed Dhruv MK-IV — Rudra which can carry Anti-tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs), rockets and a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun (HMG).
Dhruv has been developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and uses two French-made Shakti engines which allows the helicopter to operate in areas above 18,000 feet at the Siachen glacier.
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