Aircraft, defence: India

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Forces lost 35 aircraft, 14 pilots in crashes since 2014, December 21, 2017: The Times of India

The armed forces have lost 35 aircraft, including 11 helicopters, and 14 pilots in crashes since 2014-2015, the government told Parliament on Wednesday.

Since 2011, the IAF, Army and Navy recorded accidents of around 70 aircraft and helicopters, which killed over 80 persons, reinforcing the unusually high crash rate. These included over 30 fighters, among them at least five twin-engine Sukhoi-30MKIs, the country’s latest and most potent jets.

“Various preventive measures are being taken, including invigoration of the Aviation Safety Organisation, streamlining of the accident reporting procedure, analytical studies and quality audits of the aircraft fleets to identify vulnerable areas to avoid accidents,” minister of state for defence Subhash Bhamre said in a reply in Lok Sabha. “Accident prevention programmes have been given an added thrust to identify risk prone or hazardous areas specific to the aircraft fleets and operational environment to ensure safe practices and procedures,” he added.

Though courts of inquiry are conducted into all crashes to ascertain the exact cause, the two major reasons identified for the accidents are “technical defects” and “human error”. In other words, aging aircraft and poor maintenance, coupled with inadequate pilot training, contribute to the high crash rate.

Though training of pilots is regularly reviewed to stay abreast of the latest teaching techniques and use of state-of-the-art training aids, the lack of a modernisation drive to replace aging aircraft remains a big problem. The forces require 484 light helicopters to replace obsolete singleengine Cheetah/Chetak fleets

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