Bird hit brought down MiG-21: report

Staff Reporter

BANGALORE: An initial inquiry report has confirmed that a bird hit was responsible for last month's MiG-21 crash, which killed the pilot, Squadron Leader K.R. Murthy, and injured the co-pilot, Flight Test Engineer Sqn. Ldr. K.D. Bhat. The aircraft crashed at the HAL Airport here.

Addressing presspersons here on Monday, Indian Air Force (IAF) Training Command's Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Air Marshal S. Bhojwani, said Sqn. Ldr. Murthy had ejected out of the aircraft within a second after the bird-hit, when the aircraft had gained an altitude of about 90 m. But strong winds forced his parachute onto the flames, burning the ropes at a height of 20 m. "In the last 15 m or 20 m, the pilot fell without parachute," Air Marshal Bhojwani explained. The co-pilot suffered burns. He said the increasing human habitation around the HAL Airport had worsened the bird menace.

Birds were attracted to foodstuff and to trees planted by residents.

He said responding to a request from the IAF Training Command, HAL had agreed to retrain its staff to combat the bird menace, appoint sharp shooters and install light reflectors to scare away birds. It would be done in three months. The open drain on the Murugeshpalya side of the airport would be cleaned and covered with mesh to keep birds away, he said.

IAF had temporarily flown in a 15-member Bird Hazard Combat Team from Bareilly, equipped with binoculars and walkie-talkies to communicate with Air Traffic Control (ATC).

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