Thursday, August 4, 2011

A week of loss- Jaguar crash. Does the IAF need to revise its training practises?

Neelam Mathews
Aug 4, 2011

An Indian Air Force Jaguar aircraft has crashed about 50 miles south east of Gorakhpur at about noon today. This is the 1001th  accident since 1970.

The aircraft had taken off from Gorakhpur air base and was on a routine flying training sortie and is said to have crashed into the fields. The pilot sustained fatal injuries.

On Tuesday, a MiG 21 crashed in Rajasthan. Aerospace Diary learns it did an overshoot. “It is impossible to balloon the parachute at a low altitude,” says a pilot.

Of the 1000 aircraft the IAF has lost in crashes since 1970, 39 percent occurred due to pilot error, a parliamentary panel was informed by the defense ministry.  Increasingly, questions are being raised whether the IAF needs to reevaluate its training style to incorporate more simulator training for its rookie pilots.

Another 39.5 percent air crashes took place due to technical defect in the aircraft and 1.6 percent were due to maintenance errors. Nine percent of the air crashes were caused by bird hits.

IAF has lost over 50 percent of its 946 MiG-series Soviet-origin fighter planes in air crashes, says a vernacular newspaper.

In the case of MiG series aircraft, "as per information made available to the committee (writing the report), 476 MiG aircraft so far have met with accidents and the remaining fleet is 470 MiG aircraft," a report submitted to the Lok Sabha said. "Problems associated with vintage technology, especially aero engine function in MiG-21 and MiG-27 are more pronounced," the report added.

The high rate of accidents, the committee noted, was caused by technical defects pertaining to the old technology of the aircraft. India got its first supersonic combat jet, the Soviet-era MiG-21s, in early 1960s. Added to this, has been the lack of genuine spare parts that have proved a bane since the breakup of the erstwhile Soviet Union.

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