Nearly a month after the fatal crash of an Anton-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in Arunachal Pradesh, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Monday said that the accident rate per 10,000 flying hours in the IAF has come down from 1.04 in 1999 to 0.33 in 2019. Rajnath was speaking in the Rajya Sabha during the question hour.
“The average accident rate has reduced from 1.04 per 10,000 flying hours in 1999 to 0.52 in 2004. This has further reduced to 0.46 in the next five years and currently the accident rate is 0.33 per 10,000 flying hours,” Rajnath said. Meanwhile talking about the upgradation of the An-32 fleet, he added that 52 aircraft have been upgraded.
“As far as planes are concerned, particularly AN-32 planes, so far 52 have been upgraded, but we cannot say that those planes which have not been upgraded yet are not airworthy. It would not be fair to assume so,” he said.
The An-32, which took off from the Air Force Station in Assam’s Jorhat on June 3 at 12.27 pm, never landed at the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Shi Yomi district. The aircraft’s last contact with ground staff was at 12.55pm. After over a week-long search operation, the wreckage was spotted 16 Kms North of Lipo, North East of Tato at an approximate elevation of 12,000 ft by the IAF Mi-17 Helicopter. All 13 on board were killed.
The Defence Minister maintained that the An-32 fleet is airworthy. “I want to assure the House that our An-32 fleet is airworthy and there was no problem. But this incident happened, which is very unfortunate. All 13 personnel on board sustained fatal injuries. Every aircraft accident is analysed through a Court/Board of Inquiry and remedial measures are undertaken accordingly,” he told the Upper House.
The Defence Minister’s statement corroborates that of IAF chief BS Dhanoa, who expressed that the organisation will continue using the transport aircraft in the service as there is no replacement for An-32 at the moment. He, however, maintained that the IAF has expedited the process of acquiring new equipment for the advanced line of aircraft. The IAF had recently got its first batch of Chinook heavy-lift aircraft from Boeing.