Mi-17 chopper may have crashed due to detachment of tail rotor: Dhanoa

Hindon (UP): The Mi-17 helicopter crash in Tawang, in which seven military personnel were killed, may have been caused due to the disengagement of the chopper’s tail rotor, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa said today.

Dhanoa also said that the Indian Air Force (IAF) cannot afford to lose valuable lives and assets in accidents, noting that the losses during peace time was a cause of concern.

Five IAF personnel, including two pilots, and two army men were killed when the Mi-17 V5 medium-lift chopper crashed and burst into flames last Friday near Tawang.

“Prima facie it appears that the tail rotor of the chopper had come off. It will not be proper for me to say why it came off as a court of inquiry has already been ordered to probe the crash,” the IAF chief told reporters on the sidelines of an event to celebrate the Air Force Day.

Dhanoa said there was no technical problem in the engine of the aircraft as the Mi 17 V5 fleet was still flying.

“I think there is no problem in the machine as the chopper is flying even today,” he said.

In his address at the event, the IAF chief talked about the helicopter crash and paid homage to the seven military personnel killed in it.

“Notwithstanding the high intensity of our flying, we cannot afford to have accidents and lose valuable lives and assets. Our losses during peace time is a cause of concern and we are making concerted efforts to prevent accidents and preserve our assets,” he said.

The IAF has lost a number of fighter jets and choppers in crashes in the last few years.

The Russian-manufactured helicopter was carrying supplies to a forward post of the Indian Army in the mountainous region near the Sino-India border.

Earlier, in a message published in an IAF booklet, Dhanoa said IAF’s assets are scarce and expensive and the force cannot afford to lose them on account of any carelessness, ignorance or unprofessionalism.

“Supervisors are entirely responsible for the safe and professional conduct of operations and must involve themselves wholeheartedly with the task at hand,” the IAF chief said in the message dated September 10.

The booklet, featuring feats of award winning air warriors, was released today.

The Mi-17 V5 is a Russian built medium-lift military transport chopper.

An Advanced Light Helicopter of the IAF had crashed at Saglee in Papum Pare district on July 4, claiming the lives of all four on board.

A total of 37 defence aircraft and helicopters have crashed since May 2014 in which 55 people were killed, the government had told the Rajya Sabha in August.

Out of the total, the IAF lost 24 aircraft and five helicopters in crashes since 2014-15 and main reasons for the accidents were human error and technical defect.