IAF, Army again ground 'indigenous' Dhruv copters after fatal crash

The Indian Air Force has grounded its fleet of around 40 'indigenously' developed Advanced Light Helicopters Dhruv in view of the recent crash in which seven IAF personnel were killed.

Dhruv helicopter of the Indian Air ForceThe ALH Dhruv choppers in IAF fleet will not fly till thorough checks are carried out on them, the IAF said on Sunday.

The Dhruv was supposedly developed by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

The development of the 'indigenous' Dhruv was assisted by Germany's Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB), who were contracted in July 1984 as design consultant and collaborative partner on the programme.

The Indian Army, which uses the 'ALH' for high altitude operations, is also learnt to have taken similar precautions before allowing its pilots to fly them.

Meanwhile, the black box of the copter, which had taken off from Bareilly and crashed after losing radio and radar contact with ground stations while it was on its way to Allahabad, has been sent to HAL headquarters in Bangalore for detailed examination.

A wing commander, a squadron leader, a junior warrant officer, sergeant and a leading aircraftsman along with two corporals were killed in the crash in Sitapur in Uttar Pradesh on 25 July.

The 'Advanced Light Helicopter' (ALH) programme for an indigenous 5-ton multirole helicopter was initiated in May 1979 by the Indian Air Force and Navy; but it took 35 years to get operational – and then with disastrous results.

The entire Dhruv fleet had been grounded earlier in 2005, following a crash landing of a copter.

Following a redesign of the tail rotor, which incorporated new materials in addition to changes in design methodology, the Dhruv undertook recertification and returned to service shortly after March 2006 – only to be grounded again with fatalities of trained officers.