What Happened To The Dhruv In Ecuador?

The two Ecuadorian helicopter pilots Luis Armas and Ivan Abril who walked away almost unscathed from the dramatic crash of their Dhruv helicopter have been treated for minor injuries, and are to be discharged in a few days from a military hospital in Quito. They had a closer call than most do in helicopter accidents of this kind. While a very serious inquiry now stares HAL uncomfortably in the face, one fact is undeniable. The accident, like a previous one in November 2005 in which all six on board survived, establishes once again the remarkable crashworthiness of the ALH Dhruv. But that's not the point here. What's important is what went wrong at Quito's Mariscal Sucre airport. The facts as we know them right now are bare, notwithstanding the ready affirmation by Ecuadorian air force chief General Rodrigo Bohorquez, that the crash had taken place as a result of pilot error. Strangely, even Ecuador's defence minister Javier Ponce said in an interview to a local newspaper that all prima facie indications were that the pilot had "excessively manoeuvered" the chopper, leading to the accident. For starters, the helicopter is not serviceable -- it is beyond repair. It was the one of three Dhruvs flying in an arrow-head formation. Here's what we know so far, for the record:
Stay tuned for updates on the crash. I'm expecting more details shortly.

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