Pilot error was the reason behind the crash of two of the four India-made Dhruv helicopters supplied to Ecuador, while the cause of the other two cannot be attributed to manufacturing defects, the government said Friday. The reason of crashes of other two Dhruv helicopters was indicated to be “human error” and “non-maintenance” by the Ecuadorean authorities. In a written reply to Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said the ‘Dhruvs’ exported to Ecuador have sustained a series of crashes. Out of seven Dhruv helicopters supplied to Ecuador, four have crashed during the period October 2009 to January 2015. Dhruv helicopters were operating normally until January 2015, he said, adding post crashes in January 2015, Ecuador has suspended operation of these choppers.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), on its own, deputed its experts to Ecuador in each case of accident. The Ecuador government constituted Court of Inquiry (CoI) in each case and being the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), HAL also participated in the CoI. “The Court of Inquiry reports which have been released by Ecuador government have concluded the cause of first two accidents as ‘Pilot Error’,” he said.
Reports of two other Courts of Inquiry have not been released by the Ecuador government, citing confidentiality. However, from the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) records analysed by HAL as part of Court of Inquiry proceedings, the following causes of accidents have emerged — probable cause is PAO-–Pilot Associated Oscillation (human error) and in fourth case “failure of tail drive shaft attributed to maintenance lapse by Ecuadorian team”.
Ecuador government has not formally communicated to HAL or its local representative in this regard. The Minister said in order to increase the export potential in global market, HAL has approached European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for certification of ALH Dhruv helicopter. Long Term Onsite Maintenance Support for 3-5 years will be proposed in future contracts, he said.