"Higher fatigue" behind ALH Dhruv crashes, says govt panel

Following a string of accidents, a major government regulatory body that oversees the certification of military aircraft is conducting a thorough examination of the indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH Dhruv), the main workhorse of the Indian military.
Officials in the defence and security establishment told the media that the preliminary study’s issues have already been identified by the committee formed by the Bengaluru-based Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC), which includes representatives from the manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), and the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).
To certify the airworthiness of military aircraft, helicopters, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), aero-engines, air launched munitions, and other airborne items, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) established CEMILAC.
The review follows a recent string of ALH Dhruv helicopter crashes. Since March, three ALH have crashed, one of which occurred only last week and resulted in the death of an Indian Army technician.
In the previous five years, there have been roughly a dozen helicopter accidents. In response to the crash earlier this month, the Indian armed forces grounded the ALH Dhruv for safety inspections.
A report in ‘ThePrint’ quoted officials as claiming that there are no design flaws in the ALH Dhruv helicopters, which has accumulated over 3 lakh hours of intense flying.
According to officials, there are around 300 helicopters in use by the Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Air Force (IAF), and the Coast Guard. They also noted that so far, the committee has discovered that some sections tyre more quickly than others.
The “collective,” which regulates the power to the rotors and back, broke during the accident of an ALH known as the Rudra in Arunachal Pradesh in October of last year.
Officials had then said that the Court of Inquiry (CoI) into the miraculous escape of former army Commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh in an ALH crash 2019 had occurred because of the failure of the “collective”.
The CoI discovered that the rod had split in half, as if it had been cut. However, additional examination revealed that, similar to other helicopters, the rod had considerable fatigue marks.
“The CEMILAC panel has found that certain parts are showing higher fatigue than what the time frame is. So this is something that one would be considering to change,” a source told ThePrint.
According to the official, if a specific item typically has a flying life of roughly 300 hours, it is maintained or replaced after 300 hours.
To allow for the essential replacement or service, the flying life must be reduced if the fatigue starts to set in significantly earlier than 300 hours.
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