Decision comes after 5 Army personnel killed in Arunachal crash

All advanced light helicopters (ALH) with the three armed forces will undergo a one-time check, the decision coming a day after five Army personnel died in a crash near Tuting in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday.

There are some 300 ALHs across the Indian Air Force, Navy and the Army Aviation, besides a few with the Coast Guard. “One-time preventive check has been ordered on the entire fleet,” sources across the tri-services confirmed to The Tribune.

Had Flagged Technical Fault

Army copter that crashed near Tuting sent out a Mayday’ call, suggested technical failure ‘Mayday’ is an emergency call pilots make over radio in case of major issue with the aircraft. Advanced light helicopters or ALHs are stationed in the Himalayas and at key locations in peninsular India

The ALH category has four variants: DHRUV MK-1, MK-2, MK-3 and RUDRA-WSI Gunship.

The copter that crashed in Arunachal was Rudra MK-IV, which is the latest version.

The ALHs are deployed across the country, stationed in the Himalayas from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh and at key locations in peninsular India. Checks will be conducted by helicopter maintenance and repair units stationed with the squadrons of the respective forces. Some of the helicopters are learnt to have been cleared following checks over the past 24 hours. The entire fleet of 300 is expected to be inspected over the next two days.

Sources said the check was for mechanical and technical “stress points” on the copter, including its engines, rotor-blades and the ‘collective’ (component that controls power from engine to both rotors, one on top and other at tail). The check has been necessitated as the Army Aviation helicopter that crashed near Tuting did send out a “Mayday” stress call. “Prior to the crash, the Air Traffic Control had received a ‘Mayday’ call suggesting a technical or mechanical failure,” Army officials in Delhi said. “Mayday” is an emergency call pilots make over radio in case of any major issue with the aircraft.

The weather at Tuting was good for flying operations. The pilots had more than 600 combined flying hours on the ALH and over 1,800 flying hours between them. Both the facets would form the focus of a court of inquiry, which was constituted to investigate the cause of the accident, an official said. The copter with five on board crashed at 10.45 am. The Army said all five bodies had been found. The dead include Maj Vikas Bhambhu, Maj Mustafa Bohara, Naik Rohitashva Kumar, Technician Aswin KV and Havildar Biresh Sinha.

All the four variants are twin-engine machines. Across these four variants, two types of engines are used. The ones in the MK-3 and RUDRA-WSI versions have more powerful Shakti engines. The copter that a couple of days ago was the RUDRA-WSI, the latest version. It was inducted into service in June 2015.