NEW DELHI: In wake of the recent crash, the IAF has grounded its frontline fighter fleet of Sukhoi-30 and is undertaking a thorough technical check of the aircraft.
An expert team of Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) is expected to join the investigation into the crash.
A Su-30 had met with an accident on October 14 near Pune, in which both ejection seats had “fired”, while the aircraft was landing. One Wing Commander and a Flight Lieutenant had baled out safely and the crash occurred within minutes of the plane taking off.
Though the CoI is yet to establish the cause of the accident, initial reports suggest that the accident occurred due to a technical snag and has ruled out the possibility of pilot error.
“As is the procedure in such cases, the flying of the Su-30 fleet has been temporarily suspended. The CoI is in progress and certain specific checks are being conducted on the aircraft. As and when the checks are complete and the CoI is satisfied, the Su-30s will be put back into flying,”IAF spokesperson Wing Commander S S Birdi said. “The pilots were safe, but the aircraft crashed about 20 km short of runway. No loss of life or damage to property was reported,” Birdi added.
The fleet of about 200 twin-engine Su-30s would be back in air only when they are cleared by the technical review. The grounded fleet represents almost a third of the country’s fighter plane fleet. The IAF is down to 34 Combat Squadrons, as against an authorised strength of 44. Each Squadron has up to 18 fighter planes.
Incidentally, one of the two pilots was involved in a Su-30 crash too. This was the fifth accident involving a SU-30 MKI since 2009 and the fleet has at least been grounded twice earlier.