Declining to “speculate” on causes behind the Dhruv helicopter crash in Ecuador two days ago, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has sent a special team there to probe the incident that prompted the grounding of their six other choppers of the fleet.

“As a matter of principle, we would not like to speculate on the causes of the incident based on media reports,” HAL said in a statement here.

The HAL team, which was already in Ecuador providing maintenance support, is assisting the Ecuadorian Air Force in the investigations.

In addition, a three-member team of senior specialists including HAL’s Chief Test Pilot has been sent to Ecuador to provide all necessary assistance in the probe.

Ecuadorian pilots, it said, have undergone extensive flying training on Dhruv at HAL’s facilities, had expressed happiness with handling qualities and have logged 860 hours.

“It appears from the reported statements attributed to top officials of the Ecuadorian Air Force that the helicopter may have been manoeuvred excessively. The built in safety features have ensured that both the pilots ejected safely without any major injuries,” the statement said.

Asserting that Dhruv has been designed for excellent handling qualities and crash worthiness and manufactured with advanced technologies, the statement said the helicopters have been extensively flight tested by highly experienced HAL test pilots and evaluated by customer pilots from IAF/Army prior to certification by military and civil regulatory authorities.

After certification, the helicopters have flown nearly 39,000 hours as a fleet, with more than 80 Dhruvs flown by various users, carrying out difficult missions such as high altitude operations in Siachen glacier in “extremely inhospitable weather conditions” and search and rescue in difficult terrains, the statement said.

The helicopter has several safety features including twin engines, dual flight control redundancy in critical systems, self-sealing fuel tanks and a structure designed to ensure crash-worthiness, to ensure safety of the crew and occupants, it added.

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