A Su-30 MKI aircraft that was being assembled at HAL’s Nasik division has reportedly fallen from a ‘certain height,’ causing damage to the body. Though the extent of the damage is not yet known, insiders have confirmed to tarmak007 that an ‘unfortunate accident’ had happened in the first week of April, 2010. Though HAL managed to keep the matter under wraps for more than two weeks, the details slowly started emerging out, with the first sketchy report appearing in a Marathi daily in Nasik.
PHASE-III AIRCRAFT: According to insiders the incident happened when the Su-30 MKI aircraft, part of the Phase-III schedule, was being moved from one jig to another. Fortunately, no employees were injured as the number of people at the assembly unit was less at the time of the fall.
Though unconfirmed sources claimed that the Sukhoi fell from a height of 20-feet, HAL officials who spoke to tarmak007 on condition of anonymity said that the whole incident was ‘really minor’ and not worth to be blown out of proportion. “We accept that there was an incident and the aircraft fell from just 3 feet and not 20 feet. No one was injured. There was no avionics on board, nor any power plant,” sources said.
FAULTY SLING IS VILLAIN: It is learnt that HAL was quick to set-up an investigation team into the incident and found that the Su-30 MKI fell due to a faulty sling design. The aircraft’s fuselage is said to have come from Russia and only an ‘empty aluminum shell’ was being assembled at the time of the incident. “The aircraft was to go for equipping. We were working on the wings of the aircraft which were to be attached to the fuselage. We have replaced the sling and the aircraft will be retrieved in the next 10 days. We are also planning to change the entire design of the sling,” sources said.
Sources had told tarmak007 that close to 50-60 % of work on the aircraft was over and some trolley rods had pierced into the body after the fall. However, HAL officials rejected this bit of information by saying that damage to the body was minimal and still lot of integration work was left behind as the aircraft was scheduled to be delivered only next year.
HAL’s BEST DIVISON: Interestingly, Nasik Division is HAL’s main bread winner in terms of profits, thanks to the Su-30 MKI program, which will run through the next couple of years following the compressed Su-30 delivery schedule to IAF. Nasik contributed Rs 5,500 crores in the last fiscal (close to 47% of the company’s total sales turn over), without which HAL’s final FY figures would have told a completely different story. “We have ensured that everything is safe and have assured various employee representatives that the incident of this sort would not happen, nullifying their fear of fatal incidents at the assembly hangars. The Su-30 MKI program is on track and we shall work hard to meet our targets,” sources said.
MD (MiG) P.V. Deshmukh, who has been credited with inspiring the work force through a series of proactive steps, could not be contacted despite tarmak007’s best efforts, as he was traveling.
With sharp media focus slowly falling on the company following tremors being reported form within – be it at the production, exports and HR fronts -- it will be safe for HAL to put in some fire-fighting tools quickly to avoid such incidents being 'blown out of proportion’ for want of authenticate information on time. HAL could borrow a leaf from ISRO in this regard.
A stitch in time saves nine.