Wednesday, September 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Report blames MiG-21 crash on trainee pilot
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 2
The Indian Air Force (IAF) said today that the July 14 crash of the MiG-21 (Type 69) trainer aircraft in Srinagar in which two pilots were killed was due to an error in judgement of the trainee pilot.

Working on the commitment made by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy, after the crash that he would seek permission from the government to try and make the report of the Court of Inquiry public, the IAF today for the first time came out with the details of the inquiry and the methodology adopted.

Presenting the main aspects of the report, the presiding officer of the Court of Inquiry, Air Commodore P.K. Barbora, Commander of the Tezpur Air Force Station, which has the maximum number of MiG-21s stationed there, said the crash took place due to “slight bit of error in judgement” of the trainee pilot, Flt Lt B. Ganesh.

However, there was also a combined effect of the aircraft weight being higher than the prescribed weight at the time of flight in Srinagar, where the air density is low and less power available for throttle as a result of poor response of the engine due to weather conditions.

Although his trainer, Wing Commander R. Rustogi, who had an immaculate flying record having clocked a flawless 3,500 hours of flying, did make efforts to rectify the fault committed by Flt Lt Ganesh, but he was not successful. Wing Commander Rustogi also died in the crash.

Flt Lt Ganesh was being trained for “battle innoculation night sortie” when the crash took place. The training is provided by creating real-time battle conditions with no assistance of runway lights for landing and takeoff.

Giving a detailed presentation on how the Court of Inquiry goes about collecting facts and coming to a conclusion, Air Commodore Barbora said nothing was found wrong with the aircraft. Not only was the engine fully checked but even the air frame went under the scanner with the help of experts and nothing was amiss.

However, he said, a detailed investigation into the flight record and the flight profile revealed that Flt Lt Ganesh, who had just 555 hours of flying time against his name and who was in control being in the front cockpit, unintentionally initiated the climb of the aircraft slightly early.

This combined with the poor response of the engine, higher weight of the aircraft and late opening of the throttle again by the pilot, compounded the trouble. The pilot took the aircraft to a height of 100 metres within three seconds which led to stalling conditions being created.

Pointing out that there was nothing wrong with the aircraft, Air Commodore Barbora said had it been a fighter aircraft rather than the trainer, this trouble would not have emerged as it would have had greater thrust available. He said availability of better trainers would solve a lot of problems.

He added that the sortie was being carried out for the benefit of Flt Lt Ganesh and also defended the conditions by pointing out that very few air forces around the world operate in such conditions and at such heights.

Incidentally, there are no simulators available at Srinagar to train pilots for such conditions.

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