Mi17 helicopters "extremely reliable": Eastern Air chief

Last Updated: Thursday, April 21, 2011 - 21:03

Shillong: After air carrier Pawan Hans
rejected criticism of the Arunachal government over the
airworthiness of its helicopters, Indian Air Force on Thursday
supported the aviation agency, saying that the Mi17 choppers,
involved in the crash that killed 17, were "extremely
reliable".

He also said that the IAF was procuring an advanced
version of the same choppers.

Pointed to reports that the Mi17 planes were outdated,
the Eastern Air Command chief Air Marshal K K Nohwar said, "Of
course not. It is not outdated. It is extremely reliable.
Their flying hours goes into millions of hours. In fact, the
Indian Air Force is going for an advanced version of the
helicopter the Mi17 B5."

"One (pilot) must respect the weather. One must respect
the capability of the aircraft and not venture into the areas
which are beyond his capability," Eastern Air Command chief
Air Marshal K K Nohwar said, responding to a query on the
Tawang crash that killed 17 people on Wednesday.

Specifically asked if the skies of Arunachal Pradesh
were dangerous for flying keeping in view the frequent air
crashes there, Nohwar said, "It?s not like that. It?s not so.

Let?s not make a bogey out of this. It is only a matter of
coincidence that two crashes occurred within a period of five
months."

"We have to sustain these areas. Let us not build fear
in the minds of the pilots unnecessarily," he advised.

He said if "one finds the weather is within his
capability, then he can penetrate it."

"The IAF has no details as of now (on the crash). But
preliminary reports suggest there could be a technical
failure. Let’s wait for the finding of the inquiry," he said.

The Air Marshal, however, maintained that in case of a
technical failure, one cannot do anything. "There is only one
in a million chance that that it can survive (in case of
technical failure). It’s a machine after all. In case anything
goes wrong, you have little time to react," Nohwar said.

Twelve Defence personnel were killed in a Mi17 crash
near Tawang last November. An-32 plane went down near
Mechuka, also on the China frontier in Arunachal, killing 13
personnel two years back.

Arunachal has witnessed a large number of air crashes
since World War II, when the Allies lost many aircraft in
these Eastern Himalayan mountains.

In 1997, then minister of state for Defence N.V.N. Somu
and three army officers were killed in a helicopter crash near
Tawang.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, April 21, 2011 - 21:03

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