Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dhruv Flight Safety Record

Dhruv ALH at Aero India 2015

Around 200 Dhruvs have been inducted into the AFs since 2001.

The helicopter, which was conceived as a multi-role helicopter, is now limited in its operational role because of excess weight and limited engine power.

The Dhruv fleet has been grounded several times due to technical snags.

The Indian Army has experienced at least 18 accidents since 2002.

According to MoD (July 2015), since the induction of the helicopter in AFs in year 2001, 08 (Eight) major accidents (write offs) 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.

Below is an incomplete listing of Dhruv accidents compiled by IDP Sentinel

  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 'may-day' call and soon after that there was a loss of contact on radar and on 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 crash-landing.
  4. A Dhruv crashed during a military parade in Ecuador in October 2009 injuring its two Equadorian pilots. The Dhruv was one of  the five helicopters sold to Ecuador in March 2009. The accident took place over 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 hospital.
  5. A Dhruv ALH of the Sarang display team crashed at Air Force Station Yelahanka in February 2007 killing one of its pilot 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. 

Equadorian Air Force Crashes

Four out of the 7 Dhruvs delivered to the Equadorian 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.

Design Flaws

According to the ET, an Indian CAG report has pointed that ALH crashes have taken place due to a design flaw that leads to a loss of control when it is being rolled back from a left turn.

IDP Sentinel members can read more about the Dhruv at the link below.

Dhruv - Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) - IDP Sentinel