IAF under-utilising AN-32 transport fleet: Parliamentary panel

February 18th, 2009 - 6:45 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) Expressing concern over the under-utilisation by the Indian Air Force (IAF) of its fleet of AN-32 medium transport aircraft, a parliamentary committee has also noted that the aircraft were predominantly being used for routine and miscellaneous tasks at the cost of their primary air maintenance and training tasks.
This apart, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in its 81st report tabled in the Lok Sabha Wednesday, also frowned at the modification, without authorisation of eight AN-32’s for VIP duties, even as there were delays in repairs and overhauls of both the engines and the airframe.

“The committee are concerned to note that the aircraft were used for routine and miscellaneous tasks by diverting them from their primary roles of air maintenance and training,” the PAC said after an audit review of the AN-32’s fleet during 2001-05.

Of the 114,513 hours the aircraft flew during this period, only 33 percent were for air maintenance and training and the balance 67 percent on routine tasks and miscellaneous duties, the committee, headed by Santosh Gangwar of the Bharatiya Janata Party, said.

“As a result of this, there was a serious shortfall of 43 percent in air maintenance tasks and 58 percent in training tasks,” the committee noted.

As for serviceability, the PAC was “concerned” to note that as against the 75 percent level “assumed by the (defence) ministry at the time of procurement, the actual serviceability rates of the aircraft ranged between 47 and 51 percent,” the report said.

The number of aircraft on ground (AOG) was also high and increased from 23.94 percent in 2002 to 33.29 in 2005, due to which the actual flying tasks performed fell “significantly short” of the norm of 66.66 percent laid down to between 49.21 and 54.94 percent, the report pointed out.

The committee also noted that against the maximum payload capacity of 6,770 kg, loads of less than 3,000 kg were carried in 50 percent of the sorties flown by the aircraft.

“The high capacity aircraft were used for carrying low loads although smaller aircraft and other modes of transport were available at lower cost. This shows that these aircraft were not utilised in a cost-effective manner,” the PAC said.

The committee also expressed “concern” that without government approval, Air Headquarters had modified six AN-32’s for VIP use in 2001-03, prior to which two aircraft had been modified between 1992-99.

“What has surprised the committee is the revelation that not only (was) the modification and utilisation of eight aircraft irregular but also lacked justification owing to the fact that IAF did not have adequate number of serviceable aircraft, due to which their assigned flying tasks had to be reduced considerably,” the PAC.

This apart, the committee was “amazed to note” that the modified aircraft were not used by any of the entitled VIPs but were predominantly utilised by other entitled persons (OEPs) like senior officers of the three services and the presidents of the Air Force Wives Welfare Association and the Army Wives Welfare Association.

The heads of the two associations are the wives of the respective chiefs of the two services.

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