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1 pilot killed, 2 eject as two Surya Kiran jets crash in Bengaluru

Last updated on: February 19, 2019 23:21 IST

The mishap occurred during a sortie as part of the rehearsal for AeroIndia.

IMAGE: Officials at the site where two jets from the Surya Kiran team crashed. Photograph: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI Photo

Two aircraft of Indian Air Force’s aerobatic team Surya Kiran crashed after grazing each other mid-air in Bengaluru on Tuesday, killing a pilot and injuring two who ejected to safety during a rehearsal for the Aero India show.


Video clips of the incident showed the two jets crashing to the ground and bursting into flames near Yelahanka airbase after brushing against each other mid air, a day ahead of the five-day event.

Thick black plumes of smoke were seen billowing from the mishap site moments later, with a man in the video yelling 'Oh my God, oh my God'.

The Hawk jets were performing a manoeuvre when one was flying inverted carrying a pilot and the other below it with two pilots moments before they hit each other and spun out of control, according to police and eye witnesses.

WATCH: The dramatic moment both the planes crashed

Both aircraft then came crashing down in a bushy area in a residential layout, but none of the local population was injured, police said.

"There were three pilots, one has died, two are safe with injuries," said Director General of Police Fire Services M N Reddi, who rushed to the mishap site.

The incident occurred around 11.50 am while practising for the air show, the defence public relations office said in a statement.

One of the three aircrew of the aircraft, Wg Cdr V T Shelke and Sqn Ldr T J Singh ejected. However Wg Cdr Sahil Gandhi sustained fatal injuries, it said.

The two aircrew have been airlifted to air force command hospital, Bengaluru, it said.

A Court of Inquiry will investigate the cause of the accident, the statement said.

"I'm aware of it (incident)," Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, but did not elaborate further when asked about the accident on the sidelines of an event.

IMAGE: An aircraft in flames after two jets of IAF's aerobatic team Surya Kiran crashed near the Yelahanka airbase in Bengaluru. Photograph: PTI Photo

Sitharaman is slated to inaugurate the five-day biennial event organised by the Ministry of Defence at the Yelahanka air base, north of Bengaluru.

Soon after the mishap, Bengaluru Commissioner of Police T Suneel Kumar said the crash occurred at the Indian Space Research Organisation layout and that ‘minor damage’ has been caused to a house nearby that had no inmates.

Both the aircraft were reduced to a mangled heap.

"We were watching the manoeuvre. The aircraft took off and after some time, they brushed against each other while performing a manoeuvre and crashed. We heard a loud noise," Chetan, an eyewitness, said.

He said soon after the crash, about 100-150 people rushed to the site and tried to help the injured pilots.

"I held the hand of a pilot and tried to comfort him. He was calm. He was conscious and was responding," Chetan said, adding, that the injured pilots were thereafter shifted to the hospital by authorities.

IMAGE: Smoke billows from the spot where the jets crashed. Photograph: ANI

The tragedy, just a day before Asia’s premier air show is to commence, comes about three weeks after a Mirage-2000 trainer aircraft of the IAF crashed at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Airport on February 1, killing both pilots.  

A Jaguar aircraft had crashed on January 28 at Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh and the pilot had ejected safely.   

'Surya Kiran' (ray of the Sun), with its breathtaking manoeuvres and formations, is always a major attraction in Aero India shows.   

The aerobatic team was formed in 1996 as part of the 52nd Squadron of the IAF.   

The team initially used Kiran Mark II (HJT-16) built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited before switching over to Hawks.    

Also known as 'The Sharks', the Surya Kiran team, which has performed in air shows across the world, is based at Bidar in north Karnataka.

Surya Kirans not to be part of display at Aero India

Hours after the two aircraft of Surya Kiran crashed, Air Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria on Tuesday said the Surya Kiran will not be a part of Aero India 2019 beginning on Wednesday.

"We had an unfortunate incident and an investigation will take place. Surya Kiran won't be part of display," Air Marshal Bhadauria told reporters Bengaluru.

All other displays will go ahead as planned, he added.

Throwing light on the mishap, Air Marshal Bhadauria said, "In this particular incident they were doing a mirror image. The margin of error is very low. Whether it was an execution error or a bird that hit will be found out in investigation."

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said she would react after getting the details.

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