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36 Comments

  1. 1

    Vivek

    that was a brutal report, ripping the HAL. The truth is also that HAL needs to upgrade it’s learning, bringing in experts from other companies to improve the design and manufacturing facilities. Majority of HAL employees are ppl who join the company as freshers and stay till the end. Lateral hires are so minimal that outsiders with experience cannot contribute to the learning culture.

    Reply
  2. 2

    Benith

    Other than the weight class, both NUH and naval multi-role helicopter do pretty much the same stuff. Why does Indian navy merge both requirements and use a common airframe? The SP model also will have double the scale 111+123 = 234 helicopters. We can also achieve greater indegenisation over time.

    Reply
    1. 2.1

      Avi

      Because weight class is an important factor? Also, while they do the same stuff, their range, quality of equipment (EW suites, weapons suites, etc) also change. For example, a lighter helicopter may not be able to carry heavy weight torpedoes for anti submarine operations. So you can’t order only the lighter weight category helicopters. As for ordering only the heavy weight ones which can do everything the light weight one can do, it’s about cost and usage. Also, not all ships can accommodate them. Hence you need a mix. It’s like……Maruti will need 18 wheeler trucks to transport the cars, but also smaller Pick up trucks to ferry smaller items like specialized nuts and bolts. You can’t just use one because it will give you greater scale of manufacturing.

      Reply
  3. 3

    Prasad

    I am really saddened with this state of affairs at HAL. The buck should stop with the top management, apparently not HAL. No wonder there are so many crashes of fighter aircraft and Helicopters in India. Guess who is involved in all of these.
    A solution needs to be found in fixing the basic accountability and adhering to international quality standards. Otherwise, ‘Atmanirbhar’ will be wasted effort.

    Reply
  4. 4

    Rajan

    So true! Very well exposed in detail.

    Reminds me of my own experiences and harrowing times I had dealing with the unprofessional lot at HAL.

    Like any other proud Indian, I would always want to hold my head high and feel great about anything high-tech that is ‘Made in India’. I would have loved to stand up for HAL had they been true & sincere.

    Unfortunately I cannot expect that from HAL – their callousness has cost us more pilots’ lives than enemy attack. In that sense, they are nothing but betrayers and the biggest enemy of the Nation. They don’t deserve any support.

    Reply
  5. 5

    dave

    Dear Sir ,

    Great insight but isn’t the hingeless Main Rotor Blade with IDS preventing blade folding with a width of 3.5 Mtrs ?? also waiting for similar scathing remarks on Mig29K .

    Reply
  6. 6

    DrKlan

    It is quite distressing to read about HAL’s track record in these respects. Sadly it appears that politics and entrenched poor attitudes/manufacture are indeed placing lives and in turn the Nation in peril by not allowing fit, competent, efficient & effective research & development (and ultimately, good quality manufacture) to ensue. If only India had political leaders that can make appropriate qualitative decisions to benefit the Nation rather thinking that ‘slow & steady’ wins the race – it wont!
    I congratulate individuals who make these qualitative comments (above), because they only have the Nation’s best interests at heart. If you want to know where India stands in the World today, compared to China, well it’s not very high. Even though China has perpetrated some very anti-social policies; produced billions of products of dubious quality; spread several pandemics, the West still grudgingly admires them. India on the other hand, remains the Wests favourite for showcasing endemic poverty, failing civil values, disasters; entrenched inequality, etc. etc..
    I hope in the face of all these negative perceptions that India, is really quietly achieving the achievable, slowly countering China’s leap to modernity whilst wasting the Worlds resources, by investing in renewable s and perhaps taking a leaf out of the earlier Japanese model, that is producing quality products that are modular and recyclable.

    Reply
  7. 7

    Rudra Narayan

    When we look back many years later we will see that the failure as a nation to seize the moment comes from derision for domestic efforts, infatuation with brochures & imports, and an aversion for the pain that goes into establishing an efficient MIC. IN, being budget constrained has done well in supporting indigenization.

    The nation’s tax payers support the military and the IC that supports it. Only the deranged would advocate for Wagner or Xe Services to take over defence functions;rational ones would want a volunteer force with domestic sanctions free weapons design.

    When we have failures, they need to be called out and in the spirit of transparency, I look forward to hearing from those who bash the Indian industry to talk about the experience with KUBs, Vikram, Scorpion designs etc.

    Reply
  8. 8

    Rajesh Chidambaram

    Couldn’t agree more Yashodan
    Ask any of us from the Air Force
    The case of the Bis groundings,HPT32,HF24and Ajeet are enough examples
    If HAL was so good,how come Boeing and Airbus doesn’t use them for basic checks for which Indian Commercial aircraft have to go abroad

    Reply
  9. 9

    BSTHOMAS

    Every word of that article is true. I am a former Naval helicopter pilot and have flown Kurans,Chetaks and Seakings. I had the misfortune to accept two Chetaks from HAL. Both were spit shined and polished but did not even make it to base without the pedals stiffening up.

    Reply
  10. 10

    Ravi

    Wow… eye opener!! So sad to see this behaviour from HAL and I don’t fancy a job in Navy which had to deal such low quality assets. I feel for the pilots and the armed forces flying these risking their lives. I was not in favour of privatising HAL till now but not any more. Government should break it’s back!!

    Reply
  11. 11

    Ratnesh

    This is very good article indeed but if there is no counter article from HAL, this will look like a one sided grudge filled article. The problems mentioned here in the helicopter seem so grave that they wont even pass for students preparing a helicopter as project to show their technical skills.

    Reply
  12. 12

    SK Dhawan

    A very fitting article that puts “NATION FIRST……ALWAYS….”. Hope the powers that be, take cognisance of the sad state of affairs and look deeper before peddling ahead with agendas laced with personal (organisational or individual) ambitions.

    Reply
  13. 13

    Commander MK Singh

    In Aviation…ATTITUDE of Aircraft matters most for profient and safe flying. HAL’s ATTITUDE towards Armed Forces is simply PATHETIC. On one hand HAL makes WORLD CLASS product for ISRO and fighter aircrafts of other countries but they care damn about quality when it’s for Armed Forces of India…A REAL TRAGEDY. It is simply because the Armed Forces being tied up in strict protocol and discipline are unable to voice the real concern even when they want to.

    This fact has been utilised by the HAL to the hilt to thrust down the neck of Armed Forces not only sub standard but unsafe products for use in war time. It is rightly said that the faulty HAL products have taken more lives of Pilots than all the WARS put together faced by India. And it is being done to protect few jobs and chairs and for survivability of HAL itself, though it may be at cost of hundreds of pilot’s life lost.

    It is high time that SPADE be called SPADE and the heads need to be made accountable for the national shame.

    Commander Marathe’s tale is just one chapter. MAHABHARAT can be written if every pilot who has interacted with HAL is allowed to pen his concerns.

    Reply
  14. 14

    Yogesh Dutt

    A lot of ALH trials took place on the Ship which I commanded during 2005-06 at Kochi. The author a dear friend and course mate would embark the ship and thereafter it was a lot of tinkering by HAL staff but rarely any worthwhile sorties. It was more deck time than airtime till the bird would flyback ashore.

    Reply
    1. 14.1

      Commander A K Khanna,NM (Retd)

      Marathe has hit the nail on its head. In seventies HAL was servicing French Alouette-III helicopters & the Indian Navy flew them from aircraft carrier as well as from small ships. And thereafter HAL started manufacturing them as Chetaks & other variant Cheeta , both with the same engines. Some Chetaks were modified to carry armaments like depth charges/ torpedoes. Some were modified with floatation gears for use during Antarctic Expeditions. Some of these modifications & others like LMG fittings were carried out in-house by the Naval Engineers at Cochin. These helicopters could be relied upon even when flown beyond their stated capabilities. And this is exactly what is required in any flying machine. The military pilots flying them must get the faith that their machines will not let them down during trying times even if at the heat of the moment the pilot exceeds the machine limitations momentarily. Unfortunately, all this is lacking in the helicopters now being produced by the HAL as very emphatically brought out by Marathe. And then HAL to make silly comments on Admiral Arun Prakash’s posts speaks volumes about HAL itself .??

      Reply
  15. 15

    Richard Fernandes

    The fact remains that HAL always has to listen to customer and customer requirement which, if practiced there will be a solution and Customer satisfaction.

    Over the years most of the leaders are home grown and their attitude is how to pl the bureaucrats not the Customer.

    The customer though has CEMILAC and CRI as their reps have little voice in pushing the customer requirement as they are a part of the MOD
    whereas when it comes to Civilian flight requirement the DGCA never clears If it does not meet customer requirement as they are not part of MoD.

    I fully endorse commander Yashodhan views and there needs to be a review by the MOD as how the customer can be represented at Director levels to ensure customer delight by HAL.

    Reply
  16. 16

    Ajeet Rana

    See the problem is not entirely attributed to HAL, due to monopoly in indian aviation HAL no reason/will to do any better than what they have been doing for years!
    You bring in competition in terms of private players participation, HAL will either improve or perish.
    Sooner we realise this fundamental aspect, better it will be for our country’s defense preparedness…

    Reply
  17. 17

    Vina

    Yes. All very true. But engineering is not “science” . You will never get it right the first time. There is always a learning and feedback loop that operates and products evolve and get better. The helicopter that the Navy wants to import went through its teething troubles and other issues in foreign service. Now, what if the V-22 Osprey was offered to the Navy ? They will jump on to it. But the V-22 itself has such a troubled development history and actually cost DOZENS of lives before it got glitches ironed out, and this is with a product after multiple iterations from concepts and prototypes going back 30 to 40 years. As for the Navy’s acceptance procedure, pray what acceptance did you do with the Vikramaditya/Gorshkov ? You have bought a white elephant, a maintenance nightmare, with unique ship machinery that lacks widespread support and from a country the industrial base for that is probably shut down. Why the sole Russian carrier Kuzentsov does not move around without a tug , was barely serviceable in it’s Syria operations , the SU-33 and Mig29K operations were duds, with 2 being ditched into the sea /lost. So what kind of ship , machinery and aircraft did the Navy choose ? What does one make of the Mig 29K ? A few have already crashed , one crashing into the perimeter walls, another with spectacular engine fires and pilots ejecting over Goa are all over the internet. So why on earth with your much ballyhooed experience with “western” stuff like Sea King and Harrier lead to this? Just wondering. And don’t get me started on the Navy fellows running the ship yards. Suffice to say that they have run them into the ground for the past 30 years. By your logic, the Indian yards should be flooding the global market with ships , coz the Indian Navy runs the yards and ergo produces the best stuff .So how many ships have you sold to any country? And pray, how many Ka-226T have been sold in the global markets , how many countries operate them, what is their record , and how many do the Russians themselves operate ? Is there even a ship based version of that anywhere , even in Russia?

    Reply
    1. 17.1

      Richard Fernandes

      We are deviating from the subject. What Navy has asked is to ensure the use of Helicopter as per the original specifications requirements based on the study they have done for operations on board the ship. If HAL cannot meet the operational requirements they should say so to the customer and see how they can arrive at mutual agreement. The turnaround time I feel is too high for putting the blades in position.

      Reply
    2. 17.2

      SP

      Do all your reasoning make the ALH an acceptable shipboard helicopter?

      Reply
  18. 18

    Sudhir Pillai

    Let us not make this into an IN vs HAL spat. And to take on Admiral Arun Prakash is most regrettable especially if it’s coming from authoritative sources in HAL. Whoever released it would do better to know where Admiral Arun Prakash comes from.

    The malaise is much deeper in organisations and institutions. Unless these are reformed and they have a better way of group-think nothing is going to change. That change must start with horizontal integration of key players into a corporate body and an entire reform of our efforts at a viable defence-industrial complex. It is more than pushing files as if it’s all in a days work.

    Reply
  19. 19

    Dr.C.S.Venkatesh,Lt.Col./AMC rtd

    What s nice article exposing the mistakes/mismanagement by HAL.So many lives of our brave pilots have been lost because of HAL,s incompetence ,stubbarness not to listen to our Naval pilots who have sacrificed so much for our great country.This letter is an eye opener for those at helm of affairs to act and restructure HAL-Lt.Col.Dr.C.S.Venkatesh/AMC rtd.

    Reply
  20. 20

    Abhijit

    100% agreed. Naval high technology requirements must be respected and compromises of PAST MUST BE DONE AWAY WITH. NOW OR NEVER SP MODEL POSSIBLE. SUPPORT SP MODEL, help Indian manufacturers, produce High technology helicopters with foreign partners jv and demonstrate successful partnership leading to EXPORT of high technology Helicopters from India GLOBALLY. This success is possible given a Chance to this SP MODEL. NAVY had waited for years, gave chance, money, compromised, but now no more. TAXPAYERS MONEY CANNOT BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED ANYMORE. INDIAN SECURITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EMOTIONAL SOCIALIST APPROACH. A PRACTICAL solution is in sight give chance. We have seen Tata Sikorsky success in private manufacturing, why DOUBT OTHERS ??? WHY ONLY HAL ?? NO MORE COMPROMISES. WELL EXPLAINED BY USER.

    Reply
  21. 21

    Mahalik

    Very well explained. Now we know what actually goes on.

    One can’t expect miracles if the medicine or the treatment to a disease is improper.
    Similarly one can’t expect best results it our brave-hearts are not equipped with the required Armour.

    The HAL has to set right itself and can’t carry-on with the routine old systems. Time has changed and sophistication of the Fighting Armour is the call of the hour. No Politics should be played when it comes to safety, security and the lives of the fighters of the country – PERIOD>

    Reply
  22. 22

    sid

    The Pilot has made very valid comments, it is a fact that HAL is responsible for more deaths in IAF than PAF or PLAAF. Even a cursory look at the ALH and LCA show that the products are laughable and probably would never survive a meeting with an enemy. that government is forcing IAF to fly in these aircraft is itself an act of treachery to our brave pilots. Even the Indian PMs security doesnt trust Dhruv, they only allow him to fly in MI choppers. Yes this is true, please check

    Reply
  23. 23

    jaiparkash Narain

    Very sad, It looks more like a JuGARD from Punjab farmer. How could HAL produce such a product for DFs that too for Navy which has to operate from a Deck which has a lot of inbuilt hazards like wind speed, ships movement and hanger fitting etc. These can be called death machines with ease. Even the second hand machine, at times we buy from other countries are better than this product. It is a shameful act by HAL which has no concern about the life of a pilot and its crews, forget about the cost it has involved. It is high time we become more quality conscious if we want to progress on made in India concept.

    Reply
  24. 24

    Amit

    I was onboard the carrier when the author embarked with his 02 birds for an overseas deployment and showcasing the ALH to the SE Asian countries was a part of it. Not only did the ALH detachment face issues which were unheard of , but no prizes for guessing, they received no interest from the host countries. As a helicopter pilot I have been to HAL for acceptance of aircraft after major overhaul and it was an eye opener ! Any car service station has better floor shop hygiene than HAL. No wonder, apart from the service chiefs, no VIP flies in the aircraft. For those who have nt seen it up close even the TATA Indica, when first launched had a better finish, be it paint work, rubber beading, door closing or alignment of panels. I pose this to HAL, if your product is so good, how come there are no foreign customers even for the latest version. To draw a parallel, there is a big difference between a Maruti and a Volkswagen product . Just because Maruti has more volumes, does not in any way make it better than a VW product ( incidentally Maruti’s products do not pass the EU crash standards). The Navy has a manadate and it cannot do it with a Maruti because the adversery is certainly equipped with a VW ! So HAL, please stop using MoD to peddle us inferior products. Get yourself a foreign customer. We shall celebrate together and welcome you with open arms. But for that you have to tighten your shoe laces before a TESLA comes calling.

    Reply
  25. 25

    Vijender Singh

    Very long yet worth a read sir.
    I have seen you calling spade a spade right from INAS 561 and 321 flight where I served with you.

    Reply
  26. 26

    Ravindra

    Well Explained and Exposed functioning of HAL. Thinking why skill development failed in India if this was the workmanship of High tech psu. Navy should not be pressurised to accept this udan khatola.

    Reply
  27. 27

    Mic Mada

    Looks like there is a need for an independent crash investigation agency and other expert parties of industry to look into this for recommendation for HAL. A Navy vs. HAL discussion is a confrontational setting that reminds one of a psychiatric inquisition with the Indian Navy on the couch and HAL still behind the desk, not relinquishing expertise. It is not necessarily that government companies are bad, but government verticality means that infighting is bound to happen between agencies. It clearly is a situation of communication and there is a need to spread out the discussion between 3 or more parties on the issue so as to make the issue the common enemy and not HAL or the Navy. This is more fundamental in how India is run by sometimes over-educated people, so to speak.

    Reply
  28. 28

    Cdr. Hirak Nag.

    Thanks very much for a truthful and detailed exposure of defective Indian manufacture of avionics
    the core issue which forms risk to the lives of Naval pilots. Hopefully such exposure will be taken in the right spirit to corrected forthwith, regards, Cdr. Hirak Nag (Retd).

    Reply
  29. 29

    Cdr. Hirak Nag

    Thanks for a very truthful and detailed exposure of defective Indian manufacture of Avionics risking lives of Naval Pilots, Cdr.Hirak Nag,Retd.

    Reply
    1. 29.1

      Cdr. Hirak Nag

      Thanks for a very truthful and detailed exposure of defective Indian manufacture of Avionics risking lives of Naval Pilots.

      Reply
  30. 30

    Aneesh

    I am afraid does this lack of quality impact tejas as well or atleast are they made better? The indian psu attitude of callousness Has hurt us a lot, time to privatize India or forget about development.

    Reply
  31. 31

    Milind Akolkar

    This is just horrible to see how HAL works in overall..I mean the local car repair mechanics have so much higher standards for finding solutions and cause finding and not just rectifying.
    It is time for Govt of India to privatize this nonsense company…

    Reply

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