Express News Service
Bangalore: Hit by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)'s investigation 'findings' into the 2010 August Chetak crash, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) launched a strong defence terming some of the comments as 'incorrect.' In an email response to Express' queries, a senior HAL official wanting not to be named, backed the pilot Air Cmde (Retd) ROJ Assey, Flying Instructor at the Rotary Wing Academy (RWA), who survived the crash with minor injuries. He had over 4200 hours of flying at the time of crash and his trainee pilot Capt Virendra Singh of the Indian Army, who too escaped, around 15 hours.
While the DGCA findings minces no words against the instructor and RWA, HAL defended its stand by sharing all facts with evidence – a first in many years. Taking on DGCA's comment that the RWA doesn't have an approved training manual, the official said: “We have sent the manual to DGCA head quarters in Delhi, but no response for a long time. We have received an acknowledgment and the approval is pending with them. Number of reminders have also been sent,” sources said.
HAL says that a special audit of RWA was carried out in 2011 by a special team and no non-compliance was found. “Every year the audit is carried out by an inspector for renewal of RWA's approval where the current medical and standardization checks are put under the scanner. The crash investigation report is not been written by a pilot, who understands the mechanics of flying and flying training. One has to take into consideration the total accident-incident free record of the instructor (prior to the accident) and comment,” the official said.
On the DGCA observation on the instructor's hover height and improper handling, during the time of crash, the official said: “While teaching we always maintain a higher height so that the pupil get more room while maneuvering. This is a globally-accepted technique. If the instructor was on the controls this accident would never have happened. But if the instructor is always on the controls, the pupil never learns but goes ahead to become a pilot. The emergency actions taken by the pilot were the most appropriate in the situation. Blaming the pilot not using proper proforma is ridiculous, as it is the one issued by DGCA.”
A senior pilot in the know-how of training rookie pilots felt that the frequency of inspection in a training institution should be more.
Following are some of key crash findings of DGCA.
1. While the instructor started following the pupil on the cyclic, the helicopter suddenly pitched up. This hover was due to not properly handling of controls by the instructor.
2. The instructor had followed his instincts and did not follow the emergency procedures as laid down in the flight manual, thereby delaying the corrective action.
3. RWA doesn't have an approved training and procedures manual which defines the hover height during training flights for trainee pilots in order to provide an element of safety.
The Rotary Wing Academy (RWA) is the only Academy in the country training pilots on helicopters on civil flying even today. It was established in 2000, as the helicopter training outside of the military was non-existent. Ever since, the RWA has trained total of about 110 pilots on helicopters from civil, Border Security Force, Nepal Army, Coast Guard, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the Indian Army. It owns two piston engine Schwiezer 300 chopper, one turbine engine Schwiezer 330 chopper, and had two Chetak –- of which one was lost in the 2010 crash. It is now being replaced with a new procurement. There are four experienced instructors at RWA.
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