gfiles magazine

March 9, 2012

Dangerous drift

basic flying trainer narayan menon
Dangerous drift
The Government’s inability to provide an appropriate basic flying trainer to the IAF will have unpredictable consequences on the future of India’s military aviation
asic military flying training in India is floundering and the military is not to blame. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is responsible for basic flying training of all military pilots and it has been carried out on HPT-32, IAF’s basic trainer, since 1977. Army, Naval, and Air Force aspirants flew 72 hours on the HPT-32 aircraft before successful candidates were streamed into fighter, transport and helicopter flying institutions. The Army has now opted for direct training of its ab-initio pilots on helicopters at the IAF training centre at Allahabad.
The HPT-32 has had a chequered flight as a basic trainer and on many occasions was temporarily grounded due to accidents resulting from recurring technical defects in its engine. The IAF had warned the Government and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) that HPT-32 would have to be phased out earlier than planned, and that the induction of a new basic trainer had become an urgent necessity. But neither the Government nor the HAL took any concrete action. Finally in July 2009, after a fatal crash involving two pilots in an HPT-32, the IAF grounded the entire fleet of 116 aircraft as being unsafe to fly. The original planned phase-out of HPT-32 was to be in 2014, by which time HAL’s new basic trainer – the HTT-40 – would have been ready...readmore

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