39 IAF aircraft crashed in four years: Antony


New Delhi : Thirty-nine Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft have crashed in the past four years, killing 25 service personnel and six civilians, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Monday.

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The main reasons for the aircraft accidents were ascribed to human error and technical defects by courts of enquiries, Antony informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply.

Two crashes had occurred since March 31, while there were nine crashes in the previous year. Eleven crashes took place in 2005-2006 and 17 in 2004-05, he added.

Besides the loss of aircraft, compensation of Rs.12.3 million had been paid to the families of service personnel and civilians killed and for loss of civil property in the accidents, Antony said.

According to the minister, “a continuous and multi-faceted effort is always underway in the IAF to enhance and upgrade flight safety. Measures to enhance the quality of training to improve the skill levels, ability to exercise sound judgement and situational awareness of pilots are being pursued.”

There is also constant interaction with original equipment manufactures (OEMs), both indigenous and foreign, to overcome technical defects that arise, besides which, anti-bird hit measures are also undertaken at IAF bases, Antony pointed out.

In reply to another question, the minister said the IAF was short of 683 pilots.

“The government has recently approved a proposal to make men eligible for recruitment under the short service commission (SSC) in the flying branch. Women are already eligible for recruitment under SSC in the flying and some other branches,” he stated.

Inductions under the revised scheme would be done in a phased manner from January 2008, Antony added.

The tenure of SSC officers in the flying branch has also been revised to 14 years with no extension.

This has been done “to ensure optimal utilisation of the services of these trained pilots in the IAF”, the minister pointed out.

SSC officers previously served 10 years with the option of a four-year extension.