IAF has lost 19 pilots, Rs.160 mn in trainer aircraft crashes

IAF has lost 19 pilots, Rs.160 mn in trainer aircraft crashes

The entire fleet of the Hindustan Piston Trainer-32 aircraft has been grounded July 31 this year following successive engine failures.

“A total number of 17 HPT-32 aircraft have crashed till date and 19 pilots have lost their lives in these accidents. The total loss suffered as a result of these accidents amounts to Rs 16,21,35,054 (approx. Rs 162 million),” Antony told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.

On July 31 this year, an HPT-32 aircraft crashed at Annaram village in Jinnaram Mandal of Andhra Pradesh's Medak district and both the instructors on board were killed in the accident. In May last year a woman cadet of the Air Force Academy at Hyderabad died in 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.

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.

The defence minister said that the defence public sector undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has started designing a new trainer. "Preliminary design work on the turbo prop trainer aircraft has already commenced in the Aircraft Research and Design Centre of HAL,” said Antony.