'34 COIs conducted in last 5 years after plane crashes'

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament (RSTV screen grab/PTI Photo)

A total of 55 AN-32 planes have been upgraded out of 115 in the fleet of Indian Air Force, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told Rajya Sabha on Monday, stressing that only aircraft which are airworthy are allowed to fly.

The minister also said that a total of 34 court of inquiries (COIs) have been conducted in the last five years after plane crashes, of which reports of 27 have come in and suggestions implemented to avoid future accidents.

Replying to supplementaries during the Question Hour, the minister said upgradation of aeroplanes is a regular process and only those aircraft which are worthy of flying are allowed to fly.

"Out of 115 AN-32 planes, we have upgraded 55 of them. Only those planes which are airworthy are allowed to fly. The upgradation of planes is a regular process and it continues. If an AN-32 plane is not upgraded, it is not that it cannot fly," he said.

On the aircraft that crashed in Arunachal Pradesh in which 13 people were killed, he said, "the total technical life extension of the plane was done".

"A court of inquiry was ordered after every plane accident/crash. A total of 34 Court of Inquiries have been ordered in the last five years and reports of 27 have been completed," he told the house.

The defence minister said all fact-findings and errors pointed out by the court of inquiries have been taken into account and improvements/suggestions implemented to prevent future accidents.

"All precautions are being taken, but sometimes due to human error or cloudy weather, accidents do take place and whenever it does, a court of inquiry is ordered," he said.

Singh said that advance landing grounds are short in Arunachal Pradesh as there are hills around. A plane has to fly at a low height through the valley and that is why AN- 32 planes are flown there.

The planes also have to fly at a low distance and sometimes accidents take place due to low clouds, he told the House.

The Indian Air Force inventory includes both old and new planes and no nation can claims that there are only new planes in their inventory, the minister said, adding that only those planes are allowed to fly which are airworthy.

In his written reply, Defence Minister Singh said the purpose of 'All-Terrain Vehicles' is for search and rescue of the aircrew of Indian Air Force during ejections in aircraft accidents in sandy and marshy terrain.

"Every aircraft accident is analysed through a Court/Board of Inquiry and remedial measures are undertaken accordingly," he said. 

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