Tuesday, Mar 26, 2002
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By Our Special Correspondent
The committee did concur with the IAF on the need for an advanced jet trainer (AJT) for giving better training to the pilots. But it also said ``if the trend of human error accidents in recent years is any indication, the remedial steps taken so far are grossly inadequate.''
The ageing MiG-21 fleet attracted criticism as it was based on dated technology which made it more demanding on the pilot and the crew. The committee said the increasing trend in the rate of accidents questioned the efficacy of preventive measures instituted by the Defence Ministry and the IAF. In fact, less than 50 per cent accidents on MiG-21 variants were due to technical defects. The other causes were design deficiency, quality control, maintenance and operational lapses such as ``inadequate experience and no compliance of laid down instructions.'' Incidentally, improvement in these areas was listed as the IAF's focus area by S. Krishnaswamy, after taking over as the Chief of Air Staff.
On technical defects, the IAF was seen to be blaming the overhauling agency or the original manufacturer (including Hindustan Aeronautics Limited). But there was lack of coordination between the operating agency and the makers\ suppliers.
Though the primary cause of accidents was the absence of the AJT, other reasons were, defective basic trainer aircraft and inadequate synthetic training equipment.
In some cases, there was laxity by IAF in overhauling engines which affected flying training.
Manpower shortage was also afflicting preventive measures. The Aircraft Accidents Investigation Board and other sister organisations, such as the Institution of Flight Safety were yet to find their feet due to manpower constraints.
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