Crashes, engine failures ground IAF trainer aircraftAugust 30th, 2009 - 5:29 pm ICT by IANS
By Ritu Sharma
New Delhi, Aug 30 (IANS) The Indian Air Force (IAF) has grounded its entire fleet of HPT-32 initial trainer aircraft owing to a series of crashes and engine failures. This comes at a time when the force is facing an acute shortage of efficient pilots.
Authoritative sources in the IAF told IANS that recurrent engine failure of the Hindustan Piston Trainer (HPT)-32 aircraft - stationed at the Air Force Academy (AFA) in Hyderabad - is the reason behind the grounding since last month.
“The entire fleet of the HPT-32 has not been flying,” a senior IAF official told IANS, requesting anonymity.
The engine failures raised concern as the aircraft are handled by rookies for initial flight training.
On July 31 this year, an HPT-32 aircraft crashed at Annaram village in Jinnaram Mandal of Medak district and both the instructors on board were killed in the accident. In May last year a woman cadet of the AFA died during a crash. In this case fuel had leaked into the engine, causing it to burst.
The basic propeller-driven trainer, with two side-by-side seats, suffered more than 70 incidents between 1988 and 1995.
A group was constituted to study the aircraft, which is manufactured by the defence public sector undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and which has been in service for three decades.
According to the study, the Avco Lycoming AEIO-540-D4B5 engine in the aircraft has registered more than 100 failures in recent months.
Usually around 140-150 cadets of the flying branch are trained on the HPT-32 and then graduate to the intermediate flight and weapons training aircraft Surya Kiran.
However, with the initial trainer being grounded, cadets are now directly being trained on the Surya Kirans affecting the training schedule of the pilots.
“We have got Surya Kiran trainer aircraft from across the country and also from SKAT (the Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team) for training pilots,” the official added.
Last year, even the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India said the IAF is facing an acute shortage of efficient pilots after failing to impart quality training. It attributed the discontinuity in training to lack of adequate state-of-the-art training aircraft with the IAF.
“HPT-32 aircraft used for Stage-I training is technologically outdated and beset by flight safety hazards. In spite of the loss of 11 pilots and 15 aircraft, it continues to be used today. Further, HPT-32 does not aid in the smooth transition of trainees to the next stage of training,” the CAG had said.
(Ritu Sharma can be contacted at email@example.com)
- IAF to float tenders for new basic trainer aircraft - Oct 01, 2009
- Training tableau theme even as IAF's basic trainer stays grounded - Jan 19, 2010
- IAF has lost 19 pilots, Rs.160 mn in trainer aircraft crashes - Dec 07, 2009
- Surya Kiran aerobatics team to take to skies again - Oct 08, 2011
- HPT-32 trainer aircraft flies into the sunset - Oct 19, 2011
- India clears $600-mn deal for air force trainers - May 10, 2012
- India signs $640-mn deal for 75 Pilatus trainers - May 24, 2012
- India to buy 20 more Hawk jets for aerobatics team - Sep 14, 2012
- IAF's Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team to be disbanded? (With images) - Oct 06, 2009
- IAF awaits cabinet nod to buy Pilatus trainer - Nov 18, 2011
- HPT-32 trainer claimed lives of 23 pilots: IAF chief - Oct 03, 2011
- New simulators for training air force pilots - May 09, 2012
- 171 officers commissioned into Indian Air Force - Dec 18, 2010
- IAF shortlists Swiss aircraft for training rookie pilots - Jun 16, 2011
- MiG crashes due to pilots' inexperience: IAF chief - Oct 08, 2011
Tags: acute shortage, afa, air force academy, authoritative sources, avco lycoming, engine failure, engine failures, flight training, hyderabad, indian air force, initial flight, lycoming aeio, mandal, piston, public sector undertaking, ritu sharma, rookies, three decades, trainer aircraft, weapons training