Monday, 30th October 2017

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MiG crash blame on training gaps

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  • Published 9.10.11

New Delhi, Oct. 8: The Indian Air Force chief today said the crashes of the MiG-21 fighter jets this year was largely because of the “inexperience of young pilots”, a consequence of gaps in training.

Cadets at the Air Force Academy, from where pilots graduate, were being trained without a basic trainer aircraft for more than a year now since the HPT-32 aircraft were grounded after the IAF found that its technical defects were costing lives.

There have been four MiG-21 crashes this year — the last was yesterday when a jet went down near Uttarlai in Rajasthan.

The MiG-21 is a demanding fighter jet with landing and take-off speeds much greater than the other aircraft in the IAF inventory.

“As far as the two-three accidents we had of the MiG-21s, unfortunately, except for one case, the other cases are pointing towards inexperience of young pilots who have not been able to handle the (high-speed) landing,” Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne said after inspecting a parade to mark the 79th anniversary of the IAF in Hindon, near Delhi.

Some fighter pilots are trained on MiG-21 aircraft after passing out from the Air Force Academy but with the expansion of the IAF’s fleet of the Hawk advanced jet trainers, the trainees will not be flying in the MiG-21 from January 2013.

“This is the last (pilot-training) course which will be flying the MiG-21. After this, all pilots will be trained on the Hawk (advanced jet trainer). This course will finish in December next year. So this is very crucial period. We have to be very careful,” Browne said.

The IAF has nearly finalised an order for 75 Pilatus PC-7 basic trainers (made in Switzerland) that will be used in place of the HPT-32.

“If the base (first-stage training) is good, solid... then you will not have this problem (of inexperience causing crashes). The basic trainer aircraft case is in the final stages and this is with ministry of finance, and we hope that by the end of this month... we will sign the contract for Pilatus PC-7,” the air chief said.