Special Correspondent

MoUs with other air forces soon: Tyagi

NEW DELHI: The Indian Air Force is seeking international cooperation to improve its safety performance by tying up with friendly air forces that have similar type of aircraft. As awareness and information sharing are the keys to reducing accidents, ``we have embarked on a process of signing memorandums of understanding with other air forces operating similar type of aircraft and equipment,'' said Chief of Air Staff S. P. Tyagi at an international seminar on flight safety.

The alliances with other air forces would help further reduce accidents which touched an all-time low of eight crashes in 2005-06 as against 20 per year a couple of years back.

Revealing the reason for tie-ups with other air forces, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the IAF was in a ``critical situation'' because of low fleet serviceability's caused by shortage of spares. He, therefore, adopted a four-pronged approach to ensure that as many aircraft as possible were on hand for operations and those that flew did not crash frequently.

The Government evolved a fast track procurement mechanism and deputed a task force for Russia for immediate procurement of spares and expeditious finalisation of contracts for overhaul and purchase of critical spares that would improve the availability of the IAF fleet. The second step was asking the IAF to decommission redundant and unreliable technology such as the aero-engines of a certain aircraft fleet. The other two planks were greater interaction with manufacturers and quality assurance agencies in India and with foreign air forces operating similar equipment.