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‘Old aircraft,not pilots’ inexperience,behind MiG crashes’

Noting that the Indian Air Force has lost MiG fighters to crashes primarily because most aircraft are old and therefore face maintenance issues

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
December 14, 2011 12:36:57 am

Noting that the Indian Air Force has lost MiG fighters to crashes primarily because most aircraft are old and therefore face maintenance issues,Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said on Tuesday that inexperience of pilots is not the main reason behind the recent spate of accidents.

Raju was commenting on a statement by Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne that the inexperience of pilots was a major factor behind the recent crashes of the MiG 21 fleet. As brought out by The Indian Express,a study of the past ten MiG crashes showed that experienced pilots with hundreds of flying hours to their credit were behind the controls in most cases.

“It is not inexperience of pilots,” Raju said,adding that Browne wants “more experienced pilots” to fly MiG fighters due to their “experience in handling older aircraft”. The minister said that the ageing fleet was facing other problems of maintenance,given their vintage quality. “If you look at the kind of aircraft we are losing,it is primarily the MiGs. Most of our squadrons of MiGs are ageing rapidly and maintenance is becoming an issue,” the minister said.

The view that pilots’ inexperience is not a major factor behind crashes was supported by Defence Minister A K Antony. “The inexperience of pilots is not one of the major reasons for aircraft accidents in the IAF. Nevertheless,steps have been taken by the government to train pilots to prevent accidents due to human error,” Antony told Parliament on Monday.

Antony had last month questioned Air Chief Marshal Browne on the recent spate of fighter crashes that have claimed the lives of three pilots and had asked the IAF to take steps to check these incidents. Antony was given a detailed briefing on measures taken to check the accident rate by IAF and was also explained the probable causes behind the crashes.

The IAF has lost 30 fighter aircraft since 2008,including 16 MiG 21 fighters besides ten helicopters. A total of 26 defence personnel,including 13 pilots,have lost their lives in the crashes. Antony said that a multi-disciplined study team has been formed by the IAF to review the reasons for such crashes.

‘No harm in China setting up facilities’

MoS for Defence M M Pallam Raju said on Tuesday that there is nothing wrong with China creating facilities in Seychelles to refuel and supply its vessels. “I think they are augmenting their anti-piracy efforts. I don’t see anything wrong in this,” Raju said.

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