The Tawang helicopter crash of Tuesday, which killed 17 fliers, was waiting to happen, so reveal letters written by the Arunachal Pradesh government to Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited (PHHL).
The frontier northeastern state's civil aviation department had asked PHHL chief RK Tyagi twice last year to replace its 15-year-old helicopters.
"PHHL ignored our repeated pleas for replacement of its ageing helicopters in service since 1995," said Arunachal Pradesh civil aviation commissioner Hage Khoda. "We had sought two new MI-172 helicopters and a back-up craft to avoid service break and to minimise technical glitches. We also demanded improvement of safety standards."
The first letter was sent on January 18, 2010, and the second one dated August 10, 2010, was drafted four days after crew member Dhananjay Roy fell off a PHHL-run rickety MI-172 chopper during a routine passenger service from Namsai to Tezu in southern Arunachal Pradesh. The helicopter that burst into flames before crashing off Tawang civil helipad on Tuesday would have officially remained airworthy till August this year.
Besides Arunachal Pradesh, PHHL operates in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura, but the topography and weather of the other northeastern states aren't as tricky. Stretching 1,056 km across the Eastern Himalayas, Arunachal has been considered an aircraft graveyard since World War 2.