The flight data recorder of Indian Air Force’s Sukhoi-30 MKI that crashed into a field near Pune has been recovered and preliminary findings suggest a technical snag in the fly-by-wire system as the cause and not human error, say sources.
The Sukhoi fighter plane crashed on a sugarcane farm about 200 metres from a human settlement in Kolawadi village near Theur in Pune district around 5.30 pm on Tuesday.
There were no casualties. The pilot and the co-pilot, who were on a training sortie, ejected to safety at Ashtapur village two kilometres from the crash site. The sugarcane crop and soft soil cushioned the crash and slowed the plane down averting any further damage.
In a press statement on Wednesday, the IAF named the pilots as Wing Commander S Munje and Flying Officer Anup Singh. The release said, “The SU 30 MKI Aircraft accident is under investigation. A Court of Inquiry is in progress to ascertain the actual cause of accident.”
An IAF officer said on the condition of anonymity, “Preliminary findings suggest a snag in the fly-by-wire system, which is a control system with electronic interface. We have ruled out human error by the pilots. But this is just a primary observation. Only a detailed inquiry will be able to confirm this. The data from the recorder will be examined.” The officer added, “The aircraft is more or less intact and so the Court of Inquiry will reach a conclusion soon.”
The nose of the aircraft came off after the crash and was dragged ahead. The IAF statement added, “A team of air warriors is deployed for safety and security of aircraft and associated equipment at the accident site.”
On December 13, 2011, a Sukhoi had crashed in Wade Bolai village near Wagholi. No casualty was reported then. Wing Commander Suhail and Flight Lieutenant Nautiyal had ejected to safety and landed near Hargude Vasti.