IAF study shows higher frequency of Su-30 malfunctions since 2012
Guwahati/ gaon, May 19: A SU-30MKI combat jet of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed in gaon district today, minutes after take-off from Tezpur, but fortutely both the pilots ejected safely.
The crash took place at 12.30 p.m., minutes after it took off from the Tezpur air base "on a routine mission" at 12.17 pm. It crashed at a paddy field near Juria, around 36 kms south of Tezpur.
The crash site at Pub Kaladoba is not far from Baralimari High School where around 200 students were studying at that time.
"After take off, the aircraft developed a technical sg and the pilot was forced to abandon the aircraft. Both the pilots ejected. The ejection was safe and the aircraft crashed at 1230 hours. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident," Group Captain Amit Mahajan, the Defence ministry PRO in Shillong, said in a statement.
Two villagers, including a woman, were injured after being hit by splintered parts of the aircraft. They were identified as Abia Khatun (30) and Emrajul Haque (28). Both have been hospitalized.
Locals said there was a “huge sound” accompanied by a “tremor” as the aircraft crashed to the ground.
“The aircraft made a 20 feet deep crater. Its parts were completely disintegrated and nearly buried. Some saw smoke coming out of the aircraft as it circled around the area for about 20 minutes before crashing,” they said.
Villagers also claimed damages to some houses caused by broken parts of the aircraft scattered all over the place.
Officials of the district administration and IAF rushed to the site for follow-up action.
The two pilots were admitted at the army hospital in Tezpur.
This is the sixth crash of the Sukhoi-30 fighter jet, which was first introduced in the Air Force in 1997.
The entire Sukhoi-30 fleet of about 200 aircrafts in the country was grounded for a month and each aircraft underwent a thorough technical check following a crash near Pune in October last year.
Concerns about the reliability of the Sukhoi-30 MKI have been accruing in recent months with several planes reporting engine failure.
Based on recent complaints, the Air Force has started servicing the engines of these fighter jets after 700 flying hours, instead of the stipulated 1,000 hours. The Air Force says this hits operations fairly hard because each plane is grounded for about a week.
As another precaution, the engines are also being modified according to specifications provided by the Russian manufacturer. That engineering is being handled in Odisha by Hindustan Aeroutics Limited (HAL), which is a public sector company.
The engine modifications are being carried out in batches. These will then undergo extensive testing before being fitted back into the aircrafts.
Alysis by the Air Force shows that the Sukhois have been malfunctioning regularly since 2012. For the last four years, many of the fighter jets have been forced to make emergency landings using only one of the twin engines.
After the aircraft’s first deployment in Northeast at Tezpur in 2010, another squadron was placed at Chabua last year.
A study conducted about the fighter's engine failure found that out of a total 69 cases in the last three years, 33 cases were due to chips in the oil, 11 cases were due to vibration in the engine -- which was the result of bearing problems, and eight cases were found to be because of low pressure of lubricating oil.