A Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) manufactured Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) “Dhruv” crashed during a military parade in Ecuador on Tuesday morning injuring its two Equadorian pilots.
The Dhruv, which was a conventional, utility version of the helicopter, is part of the five helicopters sold to Ecuador in March this year.
Sources at HAL said 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.
The HAL, who have a ten-member team positioned in Quito, have started an investigation into why the helicopter, allegedly, suddenly came crashing down to the ground. Officials in Bangalore said they are in possession of the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.
The HAL, which have delivered around 70 ALHs to the Armed Forces and Coast Guards, are currently executing a further order of 159 Dhurvs again for the Armed Forces. However, the Armed Forces have over the years complained about the Dhurv’s fleet serviceability and issues over the availability of spares. The HAL has also been trying to sell Dhurv’s to overseas customers.
The sale to Ecuador, which is valued at around $50 million, is for seven helicopters. With five of them already delivered, the last two are set to be delivered by March 2010.
In November 2004 an ALH delivered to the Royal Nepal Army experienced a hard landing damaging its undercarriage and landing gear. In November 2005, an ALH being ferried to Jharkhand crashed near Hyderabad after the tail rotor sheared off.
The crash resulted in the Indian Armed Forces grounding the entire fleet. It was later found that the reason for the crash was the use of date expired resin in the composite tail rotor.
In February 2007, during rehearsals for the Aero India airshow, an ALH belonging to the Sarang display team crashed at Air Force Station Yelahanka killing one of its pilot and badly injuring the other.