Expressing concern over countries selling aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF) not divulging vital information on accidents, the Parliamentary panel on defence strongly recommended that all future contracts incorporate clause for mandatory sharing of data.

The committee recommendation came after an IAF representative told the panel in regard to questions on MiG crashes that Russians were “extremely reluctant” to share certain information…and “they are very secretive about what goes wrong with the machine.”

Obligation or not?

The response came when the panel wanted to know whether the manufacturing country was obliged to give such data on aircraft accidents since the IAF representative said other countries where such accidents took place did not do so.

“The committee strongly recommended that in all future purchases, the condition to mandatorily share the information with regard to the accidents and helping in case of technical defect should be inbuilt in the agreement itself,” the latest report evaluating Demands for Grants said.

With the government expected to finalise the Rs. 45,000-crore 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft deal besides Basic Trainer this financial year, it remains to be seen whether the mandatory clause recommendation finds place during negotiations.

Comparative study

In order to overcome the problem of rate of accidents not being shared by other countries, the committee also said the Defence Ministry and the IAF should try to gather information about accidents of various types of aircraft through their own intelligence mechanism.

This will enable a comparative study to be taken up that would help the country take corrective steps. Incidentally, around the time the report was presented to Parliament, the IAF reported that a MiG-21 on routine training mission crashed in the precincts of Nal airbase in Rajasthan killing the pilot.

Technical defect

The report noted that the accident rate of MiG aircraft was high with 476 MiG aircraft, which is over 50 per cent of this type of aircraft, having met with accidents.

The Ministry acknowledged that a majority of technical defect accidents pertained to old technology with aero engine malfunction of MiG-21 and MiG-27 being more pronounced.

The Centre said the IAF was the only service in the world that was flying the MiG aircraft with even Russia having phased out MiG-27.

To be phased out

The Ministry also informed that there was a programme to phase out the existing 470 armed MiG aircraft and induct new aircraft.

While elaborating on accidents, the Ministry said analysis of data of 999 aircraft crashes since 1970 — barring 12 where probe is progressing — revealed that nearly 40 per cent was due to technical defect while slightly over 40 per cent was due to human error — 39 per cent due to air crew and 1.6 per cent due to servicing.

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