Sukhoi-30s cleared for flying after being grounded for a month

Sukhoi-30s cleared for flying after being grounded for a month

Sukhoi-30s cleared for flying after being grounded for a month

India's front line combat aircraft Sukhoi-30 fleet was today cleared for flying after being grounded for nearly a month following a crash near Pune.

"The Sukhoi-30 fleet has been cleared for flying," IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Simranpal Singh Birdi said.

Air Force sources said the Court of Inquiry into the accident is still going on and is in the final stages.

They said the Air Force has expressed satisfaction over the safety checks that have been carried out on all the nearly 200 Sukhoi-30 MKI jets.

Incidentally, Air Force chief Air Marshal Arup Raha said earlier in the day that the fleet would be back in air "within a week's time".

This is the longest period that the Russian-made aircraft has been grounded since 2009 when its operation was suspended for nearly three weeks following an accident.

"This (Pune crash on October 14) was an accident which appeared to be automatic firing of the seats. Court of Inquiry is about to be complete and the findings are being finalised," Raha had told reporters.

He said that "preliminary findings" do indicate that they have been able to find the reason and "we will be able to tackle the problem without much issue".

A team of 10 experts from Russia is currently in Pune, the Sukhoi-30 base, probing the crash that took place on October 14 near there with both the pilot seats ejecting without any command during landing.

The pilots were safe but the aircraft crashed about 20 kms short of the runway.
As a precaution, the flying of the aircraft was suspended and a CoI ordered.

The sources said the Russian experts have claimed that the ejection of seats cannot take place automatically, a contention that is not being accepted by the Indian Air Force.
The grounded fleet represents almost a third of the country's fighter plane fleet.

IAF is already down to 34 combat squadrons, as against an authorised strength of 44. Each squadron has up to 18 fighter planes.

This was the fifth accident involving a SU-30 MKI since 2009 and the fleet has at least been grounded twice earlier.