Sunday, May 1, 2011

Why did the Pawan Hans helicopter’s ELT not work?

Neelam Mathews
May 1, 2011,
Time: 4:22pm IST

With over 24 hours having passed with no news of the helicopter of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu that went missing over the densely forested hills near Tawang, questions are now being raised on the adequacy of maintenance of the electronic locator transmitter (ELT) of the Pawan Hans helicopter.

The ELT gets activated on impact and transmits signals on an international distress signal that can be picked up by satellites. There are monitoring stations all around the world to pick up distress signals including two in India- Bangalore and Lucknow- and in nearby Thailand.

The ELT is powered by batteries that can last upto two days. The ALT has to be serviced every month. Given the often lax attitude, the question being raised by some experts not willing to be quoted, now is, were the batteries replaced during maintenance or signed in the roster as serviced without being checked?

“This is the third incident in just six months and Pawan Hans needs to pull up its socks…things will not improve as long as senior officials continue to have a say in regulatory practices,” says an official.

“There are checks and balances on private operators - rules that Public Sector Undertakings ignore,” says the official.

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