A whopping 45 per cent of IAF air crashes in the last six years have taken place due to human error.
The IAF has informed the Parliamentary Committee on Defence that it had recorded a total of 74 air mishaps between April 2004 and March 2010, of which a high of 42 per cent was due to technical faults in the aircraft and a mere six per cent due to bird—hit.
The figures in percentage would mean the IAF has suffered 33 crashes out of 74 due to human errors, 31 due to technical errors in the aircraft and another 4 due to bird hit. Reasons for the remaining six crashes have not been given to the Committee.
The Committee, in its latest report submitted to Parliament, noted with concern that these mishaps were taking place in the backdrop of the IAF facing a crisis due to shortage of trainer aircraft and obsolescence of simulators for its pilot trainees.
It pointed out with concern that the IAF’s Hindustan Piston Trainer—32, a basic trainer aircraft, had remained grounded for over a year now following a mishap early last year and the Kiran Mk—II HJT—16 simulators were in disuse.
The committee, headed by Congress MP Satpal Maharaj, said the Defence Ministry should take all steps to acquire new trainer aircraft and upgrade the simulators “so that adequate training is provided for pilots, which would definitely result in reduction of accidents due to human failure.”
The IAF has faced problems with HPT—32’s engine and airframe, even as it spared all its Kiran trainers (usually used for secondary flying training) to enable rookie pilots to learn flying skills.
It also had a gap in its training syllabus due to the lack of an Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) when pilots moved on from Kiran aircraft to MiG—21 supersonic fighter jets.
After a protracted process lasting 20 years, the IAF contracted to buy 66 BAE’s Hawk AJTs in 2004 and the first lot were inducted for training pilots in 2008.