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IAF's Dhruv crash-lands while rehearsing for air show, pilots safe

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A file photo of Indian Air Force's Sarang helicopters' team presenting an air show.

NEW DELHI (PTI): An Advanced Light Helicopter 'Dhruv' of the Indian Air Force crash-landed in Rajasthan's Jaisalmer district while rehearsing for the 'Vayu Shakti' air power show to be held there On Sunday.

The helicopter was part of the Sarang Helicopter Display Team of the IAF and was rehearsing for the coming air show, when the incident occurred, IAF officials said here on Saturday.

"Both pilots are safe after they had to make a controlled crash-landing due to loss of power in the chopper," they added.

The IAF has ordered a Court of Inquiry to look into the reasons behind the incident, the officials said.

In 2005, the entire ALH Dhruv fleet had been grounded for several months after a similar incident in Andhra Pradesh and the subsequent probe had found a fault with the tail rotor blades of the choppers.

On whether the display team comprising four ALH Dhruvs will take part in the air show on Sunday, for which the President and the Defence Minister are also coming, they said, "Sarang's participation is not yet cancelled."

This is the fifth incident involving the helicopter since 2004 when one of the choppers being operated by the Royal Nepal Army suffered a hard landing.

In October 2009, an ALH Dhruv of the Ecuadorian Air Force crashed during display manoeuvres at the Mariscal Sucre International Airport there.

After the formation of Sarang team in 2003, this is the second accident involving its Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)-built Dhruv helicopters.

In the first incident on February 2, 2007, one of the choppers crashed in Bangalore killing its co-pilot during rehearsals before the Aero India show.

All the three Services along with the state governments operate the helicopter and it has been exported to various countries including Nepal, Ecuador, Mauritius, Maldives and Israel.

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