Friday, October 30, 2009

DHRUV CRASH UPDATE #4: The Engine Quandary

A day after the crash, there were certain media reports in Ecuador about the date when the Dhruv's Turbomeca engine was manufactured and delivered to HAL -- the engine was made in 2007, and the helicopter integrated in 2008 for delivery in 2009. The reports have harped on the fact that the engine was manufactured a year earlier than final integration with the helicopter.

In response to these view, here's an expert view from my sources in the investigation. For any assembly line to run the parts have to be ordered in advance. The time taken to manufacture the helicopter can be upto six months. The vendor also needs advance notice to supply the required systems and sub-systems. The "Just in Time" concept of inventory mangement is used by HAL, but such cases will always be there -- they are commonplace with system integration of helicopters and aircraft the world over. In aviation, the loss of one calendar year in the life of an engine is totally acceptable, since it is expected that the operator will use up the engine hours at a much greater rate. For example, if the life between overhaul of the engine is 1,200 hours, then at the rate of usage of 30 hours per month (a very conservative estimate) the engine life would be used up in 4 years while the calendar life is 15 years.

15 comments :

Anonymous said...

reading your coverage of the helicopter crash, i find it difficult to understand whether you are a journalist or a rep of HAL. I was watching your coverage on TV where you were giving your "expert" opinion on the crash. What amazed me was that you were conjecturing that HAL could put a positive spin to the event and point out that the heli actually protected the pilots in the carsh. True. But isn't that something HAL should say? Or are you their media person? One can't help but discern an enormous "Jai Ho" element in your reportings.

Shiv Aroor said...

anon: a pertinent point, so let me respond. first, i'm a journalist. first, mine wasn't an "expert" opinion. as defence reporter to my news station, i provide back-up information until a story is fleshed out. secondly, my conjecture that HAL would latch on to the "crash-worthiness" angle was based on the fact that in the two previous non-fatal accidents involving the Dhruv, this is precisely what HAL did. If you have a look at the HAL press release issued today, it turns out my "conjecture" was bang on. It didn't need an expert to conjecture that, incidentally, just brains and a sense of the Dhruv's history. I didn't at any point vouch for the helicopter, as you yourself have pointed out. I simply said that it was likely that since the pilots survived, HAL was likely to push the idea that the quality of the chopper saved the pilots' lives. if i say HAL might spin a story some way, how does that make me a rep? you appear a little confused. and about your observation of a "jai ho" element in my reporting, do have a look at all the pieces on the dhruv crash again. maybe you'll change your mind, unless you're just bugged that i'm right :)

Anonymous said...

"There are rumors within official circles in India that a proposal to purchase the 60 JF-17 aircrafts from Pakistan was actually drafted before being vetoed by Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik after the attacks in Mumbai."

Can somebody wake me from sleep...

http://pakistankakhudahafiz.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/tejas-indias-continued-embarassment/

Ohh good lord please save pakis' and give them some common sense....

Anonymous said...

Mr Aroor, you are doing a stupendous job, let me tell you. Your commitment to this story is truly something to emulate. I send you my best wishes. Along with so many other anons on your blog, I must also remain so (the restrictions of being still in service, you would understand..) But do keep going how you are. As pilots, we understand how such things work and we are with you. Maybe at some stage we can offer you some addl information.

Anonymous said...

i second that. kudos to your commitment. please keep updating us on the investigation. you have not misjudged the level of interest in this story.

Anonymous said...

Shiv,

You're doing a great job. First of all, you're an Indian journalist and next a journalist. I've seen western journalists prop up absolute garbage and defend the indefensible, just because the product was made in their countries.

The "dhimmis" who complain about your style, simply lap up as Gods own truth what these western journalists say. In any case, it does seem that it might have been pilot error, given that making such maneouvers at high altitudes always has an element of risk attached.

Also, helicopter engines aren't perishable items like food stuffs. So, even a 3 year old engine on a 1 year old helicopter is fine, as long as the engine has the exact specified rating.

Anonymous said...

Isn't a NEVER USED old Engine = New Engine? or do engines have on-the-shelf deterioration like vegetables?

Anonymous said...

Shiv, you are doing the right thing. You are telling the truth which sadly is lacking in defense reporting nowadays. Everywhere one hear is the rumours, someone said something, or accusation of anything Indian kind of reporting. So you providing the right information in a truthful manner is setting standards for defense journalism.

Anonymous said...

This crash is an epic failure for HAl..the Dhruv must be grounded and its production halted..all other helicopters that ever crashed must be grounded...all aircraft...maybe all mechanical machines that ever failed must be retired from usage!!!

Anonymous said...

"There are rumors within official circles in India that a proposal to purchase the 60 JF-17 aircrafts from Pakistan was actually drafted before being vetoed by Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik after the attacks in Mumbai."


are these paki morons for real!? whatta bunch of wet dreamers. they think they jf17 is one hell of a plane... and thats why china's yet to induct it LOL

Anonymous said...

Pakistan Azerbaijan Zimbabwe..l customers for the JF 17...kind of tells the story....(no...no insult to Azerbaijan & Zimbabwe intended)

oh and China AF is "evaluating" it ...considering that they did build it...why would they still be evaluating it!!

and the JF 17's record of going from 1st flight to introduction into service in less than 4 years rivals the F-16s period of slightly over 4 years and a few months!!!
the F/A 18 took 5 years..

the J-10 the Chinese AF uses took ~7 years

damn..they did the JF 17 real fast then!!!

Vin said...

Hi Shiv-ji,

From the video which you posted it is very much clear that, fire was seen in Dhruv after crash and immediately extinguished(one of the salient features of Dhruv to shut fuel supply in case of crash) and not earlier as reported by some sections of media across the world.

I feel happy that you did support HAL but in a unbiased way in blog(sorry i don't have headlines today in my tv subscription).

Good going.... All the best

Spirit of Exuberance said...

Dear Shiv,

Thanks for information you provide on blog. Excellent journalism keep it up.

Cane-an said...

I am no expert but I remember when Indian Airlines inducted its first Airbus A-320, there was a crash (which took lives). I think it was in 1988.
Shit happens with every development of new stuff. It needs to be managed. Hopefully HAL comes out smelling of roses in this because no-one died.
After-all, had Dhruv been American, no-one would've been clamoring for their grounding and return.
We just need to live with this for a bit and manage it well

Anonymous said...

And Bangladesh rejected the JF-17 bundar.

The others have "Confirmed" their interest in perhaps looking at the aircraft and maybe even evaluating it. They have confirmed that they might even consider allowing one of their pilots to sit in that aircraft (as soon as they can find a pilot who's got terminal cancer and got a few days more to live).

The pakistanis are beyond redemption. These guys are a gone case. rotfl. The only people who get fooled by this is the type who partake in the deaf and dumb forum discussions.

rotfl.