NEW DELHI: The Mi-17 helicopter crash in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, in which seven military personnel died, may have been caused due to the disengagement of the chopper’s tail rotor, air chief marshal B S Dhanoa said at a function in Hindon airbase at Ghaziabad Sunday. Underscoring that losses during peace time was a cause of concern, Dhanoa said the Indian Air Force (IAF) cannot afford to lose valuable lives and assets in accidents.
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 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 the media on the sidelines of an event to celebrate the Air Force Day.
Dhanoa said there was no technical problem in the engine of the copter as the Mi 17 V5 fleet was still flying.
In his address at the event, the IAF chief said, “Notwithstanding the high intensity of our flying, we cannot afford to have accidents and lose valuable lives and assets. Our losses during peace time are a cause of concern and we are making concerted efforts to prevent accidents and preserve our assets.”
The Russian-origin helicopter was carrying supplies to a forward post of the army in the mountainous region near the Sino-India border when the accident occurred.
“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 had earlier said in a message on September 10 published in an IAF booklet.
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.
As many as 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 defects.