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'Human error bane of IAF'

PTI | Byhindustantimes.com, Chandigarh
Jun 20, 2003 04:21 PM IST

A recent study by two Indian Air Force officers has revealed that more than half the accidents involving IAF jets are caused by human error.

A recent study by two Indian Air Force officers has revealed that more than half the accidents involving IAF jets are caused by human error.

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HT Image

Senior air force officers, Group Captain Harish Malik and Wing Commander Umesh Kumar, in their study have also showcased the poor quality of spare parts and lack of skill in the pilots flying the machines.

In fact, poor skills, lack of situational awareness and incorrect decision-making have also been referred to in the report.

An analysis of fatal IAF air accidents has revealed that 68 per cent of accidents are caused by human error while roughly 23 per cent are caused by technical defects.

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Air Marshal Randhir Singh (Retd) said: "As far back as 1970, I had inquired into a crash involving a MiG-21. At that time these aircraft were brand new. I inquired about the history of the pilot and the aircraft and found both to be defective.

"The pilot was being favoured despite lack of flying skills and one day he came across a machine which was also not up to the mark and they crashed. This shows that if a pilot is not aptly trained, the aircraft will crash whether they are new or old."

But another senior retired IAF officer differs. Air Marshal RS Bedi (Retd) said: "In my view there is nothing wrong in training and our pilots are second to none. All our pilots who have gone abroad for training have topped their courses. The quality of flying skills is very good. What we lack in is the wherewithal i.e. simulators where one can practice emergencies etc. Our training establishments don't have adequate equipment."

The IAF, on its part, maintains that the crashes reflect the increased flying hours put in by pilots. The IAF brass also points out that most fighter accidents take place in frontline air bases — Pathankot, Jodhpur, Uttarlai, Ambala, Adampur etc —which see more flying than other bases.

The recent spate of Jaguar crashes has for a change diverted attention from the problems associated with the MiG-21 and raises serious questions about the training of IAF pilots.

Another study conducted by the IAF recently has revealed that the 'senior supervisors' on the ground and in the air are responsible for the large number of human-error accidents.

The study by Air Commodore K.S. Soodan has revealed that in 80 per cent of the accidents due to human error, the supervisors have been Wing Commanders and in 18 per cent of the mishaps, the instructors were Group Captains.

The break-up of crashes is as follows:

MiG-21 (56); MiG-23 (11); MiG-27 (12); MiG-29 (3) and Jaguar (7)

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