Friday, August 05, 2011

Early Data On Yesterday's IAF Jaguar Crash

IAF trainee pilot Flt Lt Siddhartha Pandey, who tragically perished in a Jaguar ground attack aircraft crash yesterday, was on a low-level navigation syllabus sortie from the Gorakhpur Air Force Station, and was accompanied by a senior pilot in chase in another Jaguar. Flt Lt Pandey had been on a simulated attack run at ultra low level (below 300 feet to avoid radar) from initial point to target, completed in roughly 2.5 minutes. However, the pilot missed his target, the reasons for which will be part of the court of inquiry. His chase instructor radioed in asking him to turn back and redo the attack manoeuver. Now the normal drill during such training is to pull up to at least 500 feet, turn around, descend at your initial point and go back for the sim attack. Tragically, for reasons still unknown, Flt Lt Pandey began turning around at less than 300 feet, bleeding altitude all the while. The investigation will look into several human and technical factors. Of the latter, the possibilities include an inexplicable breakdown of the entire (or parts of the) flight control system, including the auto-stabilizer system or pitch trim controller, both overwhelmingly critical at such low altitude where reaction time is wafer thin.

19 comments :

Deepak Datta said...

It is sad that we lost another pilot. Hoever, prima facia it appears to be as a result of pilot error - not following protocol of aging height before a turn, in this case a 360 degree turn made under 93 meters.

Questions:

1) How much training did the pilot had on IJT and AzJT, if any?

2) Jaguar and other high performance jet training?

3) Did the seniour pilot in the chase plane remind him of the proper protocol, just as a safety and as best practice? After all, he was there to supervise the deceased pilot.

thelazyreader said...

Even if it's pilot error a large part of the blame still rests with our incompetent Defence Ministry and our inefficient defence PSUs.

How can we adequately train pilots when even their basic trainer aircraft(like HPT-32) are defective and crash-prone? Shame on DRDO/HAL for their lethargy in developing new aircraft('lack of experience' is a lousy excuse when you've been doing it for 50 years), shame on AK Antony and his minstry in giving monopoly to DRDO/HAL in aircraft production, shame on them for delaying purchase of new aircraft for 7 years, shame on Mad Mohan Singh for running such a pathetic government.

The head of HAL, the DRDO Chief, AK Antony and Mad Mohan should all be burnt alive on these two's funeral pyres as sacrifice to atone.

Anonymous said...

This situation i think is not covered under the trainer debate. The pilot(RIP)was conducting specific flying tactics related to low level attacks that the Jags specialize in.This is not what you do on basic trainers or flying.Military aviation is as it is hazardous and low level flight further so since the margin of error is virtually zero at low altitudes.
Again,hats off to the pilots who train day in an out to keep us safe.

Deepak Datta said...

Jaguar crash

@ thelazyreader 1:46 PM livefist

It appears clearly to be a pilot error, not just "largely." if that is true, and it is established that the fighter was performing normally, then defense ministry / PSU cannot be blamed. I would still blame the defense ministry for the delay in indicting the AJT-Hawk132.

The SEPECAT Jaguar "Shamsher", is an Anglo-French twin enginned deep penetrating ground attack aircraft. It was inducted in IAF in 1979. HAL has built more than 120 of these jets and have undergone several upgrades. The Jaguar can fly at a maximum speed of 1,699km/h. The combat radius and ferry range of the aircraft are 908km and 3,524km respectively. The service ceiling is 14,000m.

The jet has served India well since its induction. Currently, it is scheduled to receive new engines F125IN from US firm Honeywell to improve its performance at medium altitude. India plans to replace Jaguars with the future planned AMCA.

India needs to diversify it's defense manufacturing base by privatizing the aircraft manufacturing, repair, and upgrade business. May be even some aspects of training.

Anonymous said...

IAF training methodology:-
If you crash, bad luck
If you don't, training complete!!

Prakash Shinde said...

@ Deepak

Again objective commentary by you. Pl. Keep it up! You make debates on livefist more lively.

Anonymous said...

Very good description of the scenario of the incident Shiv! This is the kind of information which IAF should make available to the public and not some vague statements. IAF court of inquiries of such accidents should be made public or even held before a parlimentary committee's video session (something like the senate hearing committees in the U.S.).

Anonymous said...

only GOD can save IAF

Anonymous said...

The IAF inventory has reduced to mere collection of certain "tin cans". Thanks to the policy of GOI after the much debated BOFORS deal and red tapism. For GODs sake from the country's security point of view the defence procurements must be on fast track basis

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

The question no one is asking is why was the pilot error caused? No matter how much a pilot trains in an ab-initio piston-engined trainer, or an IJT or even an AJT or LIFT, the type-rated training specific to the Jaguar pertaining to operational flight profiles is always imparted on cockpit procedures trainers and tactical flight simulators. In this particular case it should be investigated whether or not the concerned pilot was adequately exposed to such simulators before flying the aircraft, or were such simulators 'unavailable' due to a state of disrepair, which has been the case in the past with other combat aircraft types in service with the IAF.

Mr. Ra said...

At so low levels even it could have been a bird hit. However in that case, some evidences for the same might have turned up by now.

In such rare situations the chances of machine failure can be as rare as coincidental, until and unless it is not an old Mig-21. Further it has to be substantiated by evidences of mechanical or pattern failure.

So it leaves unfortunately pointed to the pilot error or coordination error. At such rapid moments the coordination becomes subjective to the pilot and training and as the pilot is new so everything becomes subjective to the training itself.

Now I will be surprised to know that the subsonic AJTs/Hawks do not make/teach such dangerous low flying moves. If so, then why not the AJTs/Hawks or Jaguar shall impart such strict trainings simulated safely first at higher altitudes.

parthvader said...

Lets face it, low level flying is the hardest thing in the world and very very risky. Only a few air forces have this expertise. However, there is terrain following radar systems like those on RAF Tornados that should be included in the upgrade.

These allow pilots to set the altitude and the aircraft auto pilot kicks in when crash becomes imminent. I don't know the exact detail or employability of these systems. Maybe someone else can contribute.

SherKhan said...

These pilots train like they fight....which is risky to say the least. The fighter pilot is a special kind of person...doing this because he loves it and for his nation....respect him and let it be. You can't go around blaming people...this is the nature of these things...and when time is up...it is up...unlike most of us he was doing what he loved.

Anonymous said...

@SherKhan: Well said buddy..I agree with what you said.. Stop the blame game. Everyone makes mistake and i think we shouldnt be doing rounds like this...Sachin

Deepak Datta said...

We must await the final report from the board of inquiry. Low level high speed flying is indeed a great skill, but also also leaves no room for error and subsequent correction.

At that of 94 meters or so, a heavy aircraft would lose altitude to the drag and other forces working on the plane. In fact, a plane loses altitude while bank turning. The pilot was making a 180 degree turn. Protocol states that you must gain altitude first and then initiate the turn. From the preliminary reports, the pilot was observed making the turn without gaining altitude and crashed. If there was bird ingestion, it would have come out in the preliminary report.

Jaguar has two powerful engines.

Sambit said...

RIP- Flt Lt Siddhartha Pandey.....You are part of those bravehearts who died-- so that we live on safely. I wish i could create more technologies , better technologies so that your and otehr team mates' job was bit easier.

Anonymous said...

As sad as I am -- my gut feeling is that you may call it pilot error, but it probably and truly was pilot incompetence. Once in a while, militaries have trainees who can't make it through training. Tough luck! For instance, not everyone can do 80 pushups at a stretch and so can't qualify for special units. Probably this crash has something to do with recruitment and the downslide in the caliber of new recruits. Corruption has gaping wounds, unfortunately.

Stingray- said...

Dear People,

I am a fighter pilot who was in the same sqn as "Sid" (Flt Lt Siddarth Pandey). He was a fairly experienced pilot and prima face it seems to be a case of CFIT (Controlled Flight into Terrain), Why did it happen will come out only in the court of Enquiry. But to let all intrested people know, military aviation and especially fighter flying is inherently dangerous, I know it and everyday we remind ourselves that, When we go for a low level mission we emphasise the salient points of low level flying to our wingmen and to ourselves. So i have know doubt that the same was dome by Sid's formation leader and by sid himself. So, why did it happen dispite his experience on the Jaguar which was about 600 hrs and about 1000 hours total flying experience. IAF operates two different types of Jags, the state of the art DARIn-II and the 80's vintage DARIN-I. Sid came from a DARIn-II sqn and was doing the conversion syllabus for DARIN-I which is technologically inferior. The D-I requires a larger amount of pilot skill and a greater amount of attention and reserve of concentration to make calculations in air at low levels at 480 kts (900 kmph) while looking out for birds and any other obstructions. This probably engrossed him while turning around for the doing the attack again and..... Unfortunalely this is not the first time and this will not be the last time.
Pls disregard whatever speculations you may have read on this page, because whatever i've written is what happened.
I have only one request for all of you. We risk our lives volunterily everyday and our wives do wonder if we will come back home. All i expect from all of you is that when u meet a fighter pilot, soldier or a sailor just say 'Thank you'.
In the end " When a pilot goes down with his aircraft we must know that he did the best he could to save it and failed. Further, all of us who ever met him had a chance to influence him and his descisions. As he goes away he takes a bit of us with him.""
Jai Hind.

aditya said...

I had met this wonderful person few years back. my elder brother and he were together in NDA and then in AFA.. they parted when my brother went to mig 29... i still remember when he came to our house in lucknow.... his extraordinary smile.. his talks.. both he and my brthr had the same passion of flying... few weeks back i visited my brther at his base and we talkd abt him..... i still feel a blank hollow when i read abt him.. and coincidentally my father and his father are posted at the same place..... !!! will meet his family this diwali... Asta Lavista buddy