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MiG-21 sheds 'flying coffin' tag
January 10, 2006 19:55 IST
MiG21 - the workhorse of the Indian Air Force is no longer an unsafe flying machine, with the accident rate of the 1960s aircraft being brought down to a level comparable to other fighters in the force's inventory.
"The accident rate of the MiG-21 has been brought down from a high of 2.89 (per 10,000 flying hours) to 0.6 or even lower presently - its lowest accident rate ever," Flight Inspection & Safety DG Air Marshal P S Ahluwalia said at a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday.
The accident rate of the Soviet-made multi-role fighter has been reduced by 56 per cent in the last decade, he added.
He pointed out that while in the last financial year, there had been three accidents involving the MiG-21 aircraft, the figures for this year, until now, were just two - out of which the one at Bangalore was caused by a bird hit.
"Despite our best efforts to reduce their presence or avoid them, birds are still found flying around... it is natural. They have a better claim to air," he said.
On the reasons for the controversy arising in the first place, Air Marshal Ahluwalia said one of the reasons was that MiG-21s comprise almost 50 per cent of IAF fighter aircraft, and correspondingly 50 per cent of the total flying hours of the force are accomplished on this aircraft only.
Stressing that the better record of the MiG-21 was part of the improved flight safety record of the IAF, he said that it was due to a concerted strategy, professionalism and perseverance, 'with luck playing no role'.
"Accident rates have reduced considerably by almost 50 per cent of our best average in the last ten years. We have had our constraints but nevertheless developed a strategy, based on a careful analysis of existing trends and technology. We identified the problems in the critical areas and addressed them," he added.
On problems being faced by the indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter 'Dhruv,' he said there were no problems as such, but some things in the process required some time to be 'fine tuned.'
"I will not say the fleet has been grounded, but there are some aspects of the rotors that have to be addressed. A team comprising representatives of the three services and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited - the original equipment manufacturers - are on the job. Certain modifications have to be undertaken," he said.