NEW DELHI: Indian Air Force personnel on Tuesday completed a 35-hour gruelling duty cycle to and from the United Kingdom to bring home oxygen cylinders in the midst of a COVID-19 crisis that is overloading the healthcare system of the country.
The two C-17 Transport Aircraft began the journey on 02 May.
IAF Spokesperson Wing Commander (Wg Cdr) Ashish Moghe said, “After a gruelling duty cycle of 35 hours, an IAF C17 Globemaster III landed in Chennai at 11:30 A.M. today carrying 37 tonnes of oxygen cylinders from Brize Norton in United Kingdom.”
Two C-17 Globemasters of the Indian Air Force flew out consecutively within a two-hour window from the Jamnagar air base on May 2nd heading towards Brize Norton in the UK.
The two aircraft flew nonstop for 11 hours and 30 minutes to reach UK and airlifted critical life support equipment.
After taking off, the aircraft only had two halts. The only stoppage apart from the destination was in Egypt's Cairo for refuelling.
The first aircraft landed at 0200 Local Time and achieved a quick turnaround time. They flew back to Chennai with 37 tonnes of equipment including 450 empty oxygen cylinders for India. The aircraft landed at Chennai at 0500h on 4th May.
Necessary arrangements were made to facilitate the proper functioning of a long-haul flight.
Wg Cdr Moghe said, "Additional crew members are part of such missions. As per the Air Force rules, the crew is permitted to fly a maximum time of eight hours in a day considering the alertness of mind. From experience and research, it is known that a crew member can be alert only for eight hours before reaching a state of 'Crew Fatigue'."
Till date, the IAF has brought in 54 cryogenic containers, and 900 oxygen cylinders from outside India (Singapore, Dubai, Bangkok, Frankfurt and UK), clocking over 140 hours of flying.
Within India, the IAF has transported 180 empty cryogenic oxygen containers, apart from other relief material like oxygen cylinders, oxygen plant equipment, essential medicines and hospital equipment.
Airlift of the IAF RAMT (Rapid Action Medical Team), the medical officers and the personnel of the Indian Navy has also been undertaken.
The IAF has employed 8 C-17, 4 IL-76, 10 C-130 and 20 An-32 aircraft, as well as Mi-17V5 and Chinook helicopters which have altogether clocked more than 360 hours of flying time.