This helicopter programme cannot go into a tailspin

Source– The post is based on the article “This helicopter programme cannot go into a tailspin” published in “The Hindu” on 28th March 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Security

Relevance: Issues related to defence equipments

News- Recently, Dhruv helicopter in the Indian Navy’s newly acquired fleet of ALH Mk­III MRs experienced a sudden loss of power and rapid loss of height near Mumbai.

In another incident on March 26, an Indian Coast Guard ALH Mk­III MR (CG­855) on a test flight, crashed at Cochin International Airport soon after takeoff from the Coast Guard base at the airport.

What is the major cause behind the helicopter accidents?

Majority of accidents related to the ALH fleet have been caused by critical failure or breakage in the flight control chain. Therefore, certification of ALH requires a level of reliability of these systems.

Yet, there have been at least four or five reported cases of a sudden loss of control on the ALH due to breakages in flight control rods. The Mumbai incident indicates that not enough has been done to fix serious flaws.

Why is there a need for quick action to remove the faults causing helicopter accidents?

The focus on safety is a necessity. The fleet cannot remain grounded for long as these helicopters are a lifeline to defence personnel in many remote defence posts. These will now have to be serviced by an ageing Chetak/Cheetah fleet.

Flaws in design, production, quality control or certification may also impact the civil and export potential of the ALH.

There is much more at stake than reputation such as the safety and longevity of all subsequent derivatives like the Light Utility Helicopter. More than 300 of these machines form the backbone of the vertical lift service in the Indian military. There has to be a quick action.

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