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 Post subject: Military Flight Safety
PostPosted: 23 Jun 2005 08:48 
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Friends, this forum is used as a bouncing off point for people interested in various issues. I would like to start a thread on something that we have discussed on and off - mostly in the form of whines, rants and rebuttals AFTER some kind of accident.

I found out about "Flight Safety" when my cousin late Wg Cdr Suresh was director of Flt safety at HAL after his retirement from the Vayu Sena.

Although I did not realise it in those days of MSDOS and dBase, all the conversations I used to have with Suresh about computers and databases etc were related to his building a database of accidents to enable accident deatils to be compared with each other.

I found out only after I read Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava's obituary that Suresh was responsible for building up such a database initially. In those days I used to dabble with a little programming myself and had written a little program to diagnose the causes of pain in the abdomen. In conversations with Suresh about Flight Safety I always wondered if the algorithm I had used could be applied to accident investigation - because the methods used in accident investigation seemed so similar to the medical flow chart in diagnosis. In fact Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava had already applied his mind to this and gave me some books about expert systems. Anyhow the whole thing never went beyond that point.

Flight safety is a live and very real concern that affects the Air Force every minute of the day. But it is not something we ever speak about on this forum except in retrospect AFTER an accident has occured.

Flight safety is all about avoiding or minimizing the ever present risk of accident.

I want to kick off this thread with an article scanned from Vayu Issue VII 2004 (a 1.85 MB pdf). I will also link other articles already present on BR on this subject to start off as a "basis" on which we enthusiasts can be better informed about how thse things are handled.

http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/Temp/vayu-fltsafety.pdf


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PostPosted: 23 Jun 2005 15:54 
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The author expects too much from the media. There was a piece recently that went like "earlier it was MiG-21s, now it is helicopters", "IAF has lost xyz heptrs over 5 years " and what not. The prize went to IndiaDaily "MiG-16 helicopter - accident or shotdown?" :roll:

Anyways, i think the percentages figures used by the author is used to give ratings to the pilots -

Ratings of Pilots (fighters) - White, Green and Master Green
Ratings (Instructor) - C, B, A2, A1
Ratings (Tpt and Heptr) - D-White, C-White, C-Green, B-Green, A-Master Green


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PostPosted: 25 Jun 2005 07:34 
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Please excuse me for cross posting something from the LCA thread.

I believe flight safety is an undervalued and under appreciated thing among us jingos, and that leads to flawed reasoning.

shiv wrote:
Balwan wrote:
It seems India is the only nation where opinion of Gora's matters more than Desis. No Guts No glory, so what if there is an accident, someone please tell me a development instance where there was never a setback, accident or something like that. For that matter, civilian airplanes drop out of sky even after they have been in service for so long.
IMHO, PM for LCA should take more agressive approach and proceed accordingly without losing a pilot. Lost Aircraft can be replaced, Lost Pilot is never replaced.
Just my 2 paise....


Recall the flying chapati accident? That set the "indigenous program" back by 5 years.

I believe that a 6 month delay and no accident is preferable to an accident followed by an interminable delay.

Although I (almost) completely agree that "India is the only nation where opinion of Gora's matters more than Desis" I wholly disagree with your contention that it is OK to have an accident.

The reason is simple. When an accident occurs nobody knows why it has occured. Was it a bird hit? Was it compnent failure? If it was, which component out of hundreds of thousands has failed? Was it an unforeseen design fault? Was it faulty code? Was it pilot error?

These questions have to be answered using a black box and pieces of broken, burnt and twisted aeroplane. The logic that "India is the only nation where opinion of Gora's matters more than Desis" is inappropriate. We are not avoiding accidents because other will laugh, but because it is the correct thing to do.


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PostPosted: 25 Jun 2005 11:17 
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I may be very wrong but think one reaosn why indian air force flight safety is sometimes compromised is because of lack of transpency in acciedent investigation and subsequent reporting of it in the public domain. If a Jaguar goes down because of faulty hydraulics or defective weapon seperation during practice run or a mig because of engine flame out from defective fuel pump everything is traeted in a very hush hush manner in the name of national secutity. Unlike in civilian sector where all acciedent reports are circulated widely so that a similar mistake dont occur again. Because everthing is secret so is the person who made the mistake or the proceduer what caused the mistake or the defective component which made the acciedent happen all covered up .This attitude must go if we are to make our aviation sector the safetst in the world. like for example the mirage 2000 which could not land because the undercarriage problem and had to be ditched after staying aloft for 2 hrs who was the guy who authorised the flight under what circumstances which component failed and what corrective procedure is being followed - any of you guys know.


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PostPosted: 25 Jun 2005 13:37 
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Shankar,

in the case of a civiilan accident, other civilian operators benefit from the disclosure of an accident investigation report.

Who are the potential beneficiaries among civilians by the release of a military accident report? If the concern is for other military pilots in the Ind Air force, rest assured ,for they do get access to accident reports on a regular basis, so that mistakes are not repeated. This is done via the Flight Safety magazine and also the 'Restricted' Accident bulletins - not just for major accidents but for all 'incidents' - near accidents..

In recent years, the IAF has been straight forward about the causes of the accidents. There is no point in releasing detailed reports other than to soothe public opinion. and Nobody goes scot free or blame covered up just because the reports are not released to the public.

What is it about the Mirage accident? How would the person who authorised the flight know that there is going to be a u/c component failure? I dont understand your point there.

-Jagan


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PostPosted: 25 Jun 2005 15:20 
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If we look at some of the basic causes of aircraft acciedent whether civilian or military they are more or less same except those related to weapon launch and use .i am not sure but not more than 255 of IAF acciedents can be traced to weapon system failure leading to crash . Most others are linked to eiether maintainance or pilot error and mistakes that pilots make whether in A-320 OR IL 76 /78 is very very similar and as such an open exchange of information will help both. Some of the main causes which I could source from the net are as follows and military aircraft like

- inadequate preflight preparation and planning
- failure to obtain /maintain flying speed
- failure to maintain directional control
-improper level off
- failure to see objects or obstructions
- mismanagement of fuel
- improper inflight decisions or planning
- misjudgement of distance and speed
- selection of unsuitable terrain for forced landing or low altitude flying
- improper operation of flight control
-too much use of rule thumb
-iadverant exposure to laser

all these are common reasons for pilot error and ones mistake can save the others life -dont you agree


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 25 Jun 2005 15:46 
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..and who says that there is no open exchange of information or there is a lack of transparency regarding accidents among the IAF pilots? Every month a bulletin is issued on the accidents that occured and there are notifications on accident reports. Briefings are undertaken on possible mistakes that can be made both at the Unit level and also at the station level. Each Station has an SFSO (Station Flight Safety Officer) tasked with implementation of measures recommended by the Accident Investigation board. I can go on..

The airforce is NOT suppressing the information from its pilots and engineers - no airforce does. Ask any pilot if he has come to know the cause of an accident that occurred elsewhere and invariably he will tell you he does.

Any accident that has implications to the Civil Aviation industry (llike the An32 crash at Delhi or the Avro crash at dubagunta) have been publicised and recommendations have been made.

To Sum it up - The IAF is pretty transparent within the organisation - all accident reports are accessible and causes of accidents are well propagated within the community. No one is suppressing the reports or tampering with them to save any vested interests - as you are implying


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PostPosted: 25 Jun 2005 16:22 
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Shankar I started this thread precisely to try and overcome misconceptions and misinformation.

Flight safety is a science, as is accident investigation.

Here are a couple of papers (Googled) that show that there is no secrecy or lack of awareness. It is the lack of public awareness (us) that makes us think there is "secrecy"

http://www.medind.nic.in/iab/t03/i1/iabt03i1p30.pdf
http://dgca.nic.in/circular/asc02-92.htm

I will link other stories - as I locate them - some on BR


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PostPosted: 25 Jun 2005 16:31 
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Here is a well known and much discussed story on BR of how a hydraulic defect caused the loss of a Jaguar and how another was saved, and how British Aerospace put ungli into Indian backside and turned it.

http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Histo ... aguar.html

Here is another article by Wg Cdr Suresh - about the issue of MiG 21s again - but with info about causes of accidents.

http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/MONITOR/I ... uresh.html


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PostPosted: 25 Jun 2005 17:03 
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A similar article by Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava on how flight safety measures helped the IAF in better operational deployment of the chetak helis.
http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Histo ... etaks.html


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PostPosted: 25 Jun 2005 17:29 
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Jagan I never said or implied any kind of vested interst in covering acciedents -all I said is the details are not made available to civil pilots in a timely and precise manner or to the general public for that matter . The IAF pilots fly under much more difficult flying conditions than their civilian counterparts and consequently face more minor and major crash . Once the crash investigations are done the reports are definitely made to operating squadrons and hopefuly the chances of similar things recuring minimise . But same reports are quite definitely passed onto the civil aviation circles or a synthesis to the general public for that matter which should pose any problem long as critical national safety issues like new weapon system testing or new air combat tactics are not involved or disclosed.. If a Mig 29 overshot the runway and crashed killing the very senior pilot because his approach was too steep or air braeaks didnot open or whatever if known to civilian pilots will not compromise our national security but will definitely make our young civilian pilots and instructors more cautious and that is a direct contribution to flight safety . Civilian aircraft are now operating from almost all the air/naval air bases from lohegaon to tezpurto leh to dabolim any particular condition prevailingin any of these airports if dessiminated will help all and that is the point i am trying to make . Once again atleast now i am not talking of acciedent investigation but how the knowledge so aquired can improve flight safety if done in an open and honest way


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PostPosted: 25 Jun 2005 18:23 
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There is Combined Defence Forces magazine called "Flight Saftey" which comes out every month and is disseminated in the Indian Military Aviation Community. Jagan and Shiv must be aware of that.

This magazine is not meant to be circulated in non-mlitary circles as certain operational info may be gathered from the reports/articles inside.


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PostPosted: 25 Jun 2005 18:50 
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Rishi wrote:
There is Combined Defence Forces magazine called "Flight Saftey" which comes out every month and is disseminated in the Indian Military Aviation Community. Jagan and Shiv must be aware of that.

This magazine is not meant to be circulated in non-mlitary circles as certain operational info may be gathered from the reports/articles inside.


Rishi, Flight Safety is the inhouse flight safety magazine of the IAF. It does not include information on Army and Navy. The other branches have thier own inhous magazines which are of more regular nature but have a section on flight safety to discuss about incidents and accidents.

Its a good mag.

I have also seen some monthly accident bulletins of teh IAF - clearly labelled as 'restricted'


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PostPosted: 25 Jun 2005 19:18 
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Jagan wrote:
Rishi wrote:
Rishi, Flight Safety is the inhouse flight safety magazine of the IAF. It does not include information on Army and Navy. The other branches have thier own inhous magazines which are of more regular nature but have a section on flight safety to discuss about incidents and accidents.

Its a good mag.

I have also seen some monthly accident bulletins of teh IAF - clearly labelled as 'restricted'


Yeah.. have an issue in my hands right now :) It is an IAF mag, but this edition carries articles from Cosat Guard Aviation and Naval Air Arm fellows also. But all the accident/incident reports are for IAF a/c. What a beautiful magazine! Love all the aviation art...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 27 Jun 2005 07:33 
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Shankar wrote:
....If a Jaguar goes down because of faulty hydraulics or defective weapon seperation during practice run or a mig because of engine flame out from defective fuel pump everything is traeted in a very hush hush manner in the name of national secutity. Unlike in civilian sector where all acciedent reports are circulated widely so that a similar mistake dont occur again. Because everthing is secret so is the person who made the mistake or the proceduer what caused the mistake or the defective component which made the acciedent happen all covered up ..


I must disagree there - while I agree that the findings are not made public, more than adequate action is taken within the AF, and the accident, believe me, is transparent throughout the AF. You quoted the example of the prang at Mauritius- the roles of the pilot, supervisors etc were exhaustively analysed and severe action was taken, in the full view of the AF - but kept out of the public domain, as there is nothing to be gained by splashing it onto the front pages except uninformed negative publicity.


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PostPosted: 27 Jun 2005 13:43 
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Ved -you are missing the point
I am not saying the crash investigation reports are not circulated within the airforce -those directly concerned but the same fault conditions which caused crash of a military aircraft whether incorrect decision by the pilot or faulty maintainance or bad fuel management and so on also eqally applicable to all civilian aircraft operating in indian airspace in most cases sharing the same runway . Suppose a MI 17 crashing while landing due to wind shear in some high altitude runway the same information can be pretty useful particularly what the ill fated pilot did or did not do to avoid the crash . The same goes for the mirage 2000 crash in gwalior ( not the one in mauritus) when due to undercarriage damage the pilot had to eject after flying for more than 2 hrs and the aircraft crashed . Why the fastner failed or broke off during a routine take off can help immesurably other aircraft maintainance guys all over the country. The flight safety of indian airspace cannot be ensured by compartmenalisation of knowledge garnered from crash investigations . Except in some cases the flow of information whould be open .


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PostPosted: 27 Jun 2005 14:13 
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Shankar,

Sir, you are making assertions here without any corroboration to back them up. Furthermore, as Jagan has noted, the information- if relevant- does reach the civil authorities.

Also, in a case of a Mirage type incident at Gwalior, the OEM is intimately involved and then issues a warning/ circular to all operators- does Indian Airlines operate the Mirage? What is applicable to a combat jet and its unique design and flying techniques is not applicable to a 737 apart from generics. You send such design data to Boeing and they will throw it in the waste paper basket, they have a heck of a job collating and dissiminating cogent information to the relevant airlines.

Also, if the incident is due to factors that influence civil aviation [wind shear or other Mi17 factors you suggested] or are applicable there- that information is also released to the DGCA etc.

Compartmentalization exists for a reason, not merely security. And is the same the world over. Each time a F-15 prangs, Boeing does not issue a circular to all US airlines etc, unless the incident involved conditions that were relevant to them; and that is the same that is done here.


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PostPosted: 27 Jun 2005 17:59 
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Shankar - the problem is that you assume that you have a brilliant solution which no one else has thought of.

Fortunately for us that is not the case.

The IAF has mechanisms to do that.

If it is an a\c which has civil flight links then that will get passed on to appropriate people.

Details are also available in t he Flight safety journal an in house mag for just that purpose.


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PostPosted: 27 Jun 2005 19:29 
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Shankar wrote:
Ved -you are missing the point
I am not saying the crash investigation reports are not circulated within the airforce -those directly concerned but the same fault conditions which caused crash of a military aircraft whether incorrect decision by the pilot or faulty maintainance or bad fuel management and so on also eqally applicable to all civilian aircraft operating in indian airspace in most cases sharing the same runway


OK, I'll put it this way... Very few accidents happen in conditions which are relevant to other civil aircraft; almost all fighter accidents happen due to conditions which are not seen in civil aircraft operation.Even situations like wind shear etc are comparatively rare - and in case of a tech defect, the OEM including HAL, sends out a bulletin to all operators. Your point is valid - but the applicability will be very low.


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PostPosted: 27 Jun 2005 20:27 
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My take.

Safety is very important and is one of the main program drivers. In case of special weapons it is even more paramount. You can become denuded if you ignore safety.

Second failure investigation is very important. You learn more from failures than from the sucesses. So accident investigation is very critical.

Third in case of military equipment, secrecy is the over riding factor. All flight failures should be classified. Having said that, the results of the investigations should be dissiminated to all concerned.

Fourthly seeing the interest in the subject the forces should help the public understand whats going on to ensure there is support for the program. Here the PROs and chief spokeman come into the picture.

And fifthly, Shankar is expressing his perception. Please try to rebut him rationally. No need to shoot the messenger.


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PostPosted: 27 Jun 2005 20:40 
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ramana wrote:
And fifthly, Shankar is expressing his perception. Please try to rebut him rationally. No need to shoot the messenger.


Nobody is shooting the messenger, but it gets exasperating when he repeats the same thing over and over again inspite of repeated explanations (of which he has now got five!)


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PostPosted: 27 Jun 2005 20:58 
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Thats called fogging. He has not understood the message yet.


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PostPosted: 28 Jun 2005 09:36 
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I had failed to notice that BR already has an article by Gp Capt Bewoor which say many of the things that are there in the pdf I uploaded.

http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Info/Bewoor.html

The important difference between comercial aviation and the air force is mentioned by Bewoor

Quote:
Yet another aspect of military aviation is that there is no commercial compulsion to fly the aircraft. If the MiG does not fly for 5 days, nothing untoward will happen. But if a Boeing 737 of Jet Airways remains on ground for more than its scheduled time, untold pressures build up, mainly commercial.


The meaning of this is that IAF accidents often occur for reasons that go beyond what is relevant to civil aviation - although there is some commonality - such as bird hits.

Civil aviation and military aviation are not "tight compartments" with no information exchange. Many civil pilots are retired fighter pilots. In the absence of information it would probably be wrong to assume that everything is shrouded in secrecy and that nobody in the civil sector ever gets to know what was discovered.

If an accident occurs - it may be years before the final conclusions are reached - and by that time the public and media have lost interest. But not the air force, and certainly not the civil sector.

An integral part of accident investigation is the painstaking collection of all the debris from an accident site and reconstituting the aircraft and examining all the little bits. This can take several months - during which time the public's atention gets diverted by another 2 or 3 accidents that may have occured.

Accident investigation of course is like forensic science as people who watch those programs on Discovery (or whatever) will know. Wg Cdr Suresh used to love telling the tale of finding a strange brown stain inside the engine of a crashed MiG. A spectroscopic analysis at the IISc showed the stain to contain minerals like phosphorus and others in a strange proportion. A visit to the library revealed that such a proportion of minerals occurs in bird bones, pointing to a bird ingestion to be the cause of that particular accident.


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PostPosted: 28 Jun 2005 10:09 
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Shankar wrote:
Ved -you are missing the point
... The flight safety of indian airspace cannot be ensured by compartmenalisation of knowledge garnered from crash investigations . Except in some cases the flow of information whould be open .


Shankar:

With respect, if you were not already aware of this, I think you should know that Ved knows more about flight safety, indian airspace, and aircraft operations than most people on this, or any other, internet forum.

Regards,

Sree


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PostPosted: 28 Jun 2005 19:15 
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Sree, No further elaboration needed. ramana


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PostPosted: 28 Jun 2005 20:29 
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http://www.tribuneindia.com/2002/20021217/cth1.htm

Quote:
IAF top brass barred from ‘unauthorised’ flying

Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Following the incident of an IAF transport aircraft being piloted by an Air Marshal straying into Pakistani airspace earlier this year, which resulted in considerable embarrassment within the force, the Chief of Air Staff has issued directives prohibiting senior officers from taking over the controls of aircraft detailed to ferry them on official duties. Sources said that the orders to this effect have been circulated to Air Force establishments over the past few weeks.

It may be recalled that an AN-32 aircraft had strayed into Pakistani airspace while on a sortie to Kargil in March. Former Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Air Command, Air Marshal Bhatia, a fighter pilot had been at the controls. The aircraft reportedly spent 11 minutes in hostile air space and had been fired upon by Pakistani forces. Sources add that a stinger heat seeking missile had ripped through the exhaust of the port engine, leaving a gaping hole in its wake and triggering off the aircraft’s fire warning systems. It was only after an emergency landing at Leh that the crew realised the damage and its probable cause.

While the aforesaid incident had created headlines, IAF officers say that there has been a tendency among the top brass to brush aside objections and advise from the crew to take over the controls of transport aircraft ferrying them on official assignments. The majority of such officers are from the fighter stream, thereby lacking the necessary skills and techniques of handling transporters.

Another reason being stated is that only pilots “current” on a particular type of aircraft are authorised to fly it. For remaining “current” the gap between two sorties on that type should not be more than 45 days for daytime flying and 60 days for night flying. The gap between sorties for officers at the rank of Air Marshal and Air Vice Marshal is a lot more owing to the nature of their staff duties.

Sources reveal that among those who have commandeered transport aircraft in violation of regulations include a former Air Chief. A few years ago, an AN-32 was requisitioned to fly a “special load from the Air Chief” from Delhi to Srinagar. The “special load” turned out to be the chief himself. Sources add that the chief, a fighter pilot, took over the controls of the aircraft with “a few troops” on board.

The other pilot on the aircraft was a young flight lieutenant with a flying rating of “C-Green” was not qualified to fly the aircraft with a VVIP on board. IAF rules stipulate that only pilots holding master-green rating — three levels higher than the afore mentioned pilot’s qualification, can fly aircraft ferrying VVIPs. “Had something then gone awry, there would have been hell to pay, the chief’s insistence or operational exigencies notwithstanding” an officer commented.


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PostPosted: 28 Jun 2005 20:42 
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Aditya,

Why are you quoting an old report??


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PostPosted: 29 Jun 2005 20:05 
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Aditya G wrote:
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2002/20021217/cth1.htm

Quote:
IAF top brass barred from ‘unauthorised’ flying

Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Following the incident of an IAF transport aircraft being piloted by an Air Marshal straying into Pakistani airspace earlier this year, which resulted ............


I'm all for free expression, but I fail to see the point of this post!


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PostPosted: 30 Jun 2005 00:30 
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Some statistics (official figures that include fighters, Helis, transports etc) of major accidents (but it does not include navy and army)


Code:
Year    Official    
1989-1990    31    
1990-1991    23    
1991-1992    32    
1992-1993    -NA-    18+    
1993-1994    22    
1994-1995    25    
1995-1996    28    
1996-1997    20    
1997-1998    17    
1998-1999    23    
1999-2000    27    
2000-2001    26    
2001-2002    20    
2002-2003    21    
2003-2004    15    
2004-2005    17    


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PostPosted: 30 Jun 2005 01:37 
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Jagan wrote:
Some statistics (official figures that include fighters, Helis, transports etc) of major accidents (but it does not include navy and army)



As in write-offs?


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PostPosted: 30 Jun 2005 13:29 
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I would say Major accidents - 95% of them turn out to be write offs.


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PostPosted: 30 Jun 2005 14:33 
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Jagan wrote:
Some statistics (official figures that include fighters, Helis, transports etc) of major accidents (but it does not include navy and army)


Code:
Year    Official    
1989-1990    31    
1990-1991    23    
1991-1992    32    
1992-1993    -NA-    18+    
1993-1994    22    
1994-1995    25    
1995-1996    28    
1996-1997    20    
1997-1998    17    
1998-1999    23    
1999-2000    27    
2000-2001    26    
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I will donate my testimonials to the first person who can point me to any nation other than the US that has its Air Force accident data available open source like this.

I would like to point out that if you hide your data - you can claim that you are the safest and best - which is what seems to be done by a lot of Air Farces I know about. With the Vayu Sena being open - they are laying themselves open to flak - but in a good cause, although they are also laying themselves open to psyops from the data hiding flyers of rust buckets and their stooges.


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PostPosted: 30 Jun 2005 22:00 
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BRFite

Joined: 19 Feb 2002 12:31
Posts: 1683
Surya and Dev,

I posted it not for the 'news', but for titbits of information it contains;

(a) Flying of aircraft on VIP sorties by senior IAF offrs - now prohibited for safety reasons
(b) IAF standard to rate 'currentness' - 45/60 days
(c) Pilot rating requirement for flying VVIP aircraft

no consipracy angle :roll:


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PostPosted: 01 Jul 2005 08:10 
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BRFite

Joined: 08 Jul 1999 11:31
Posts: 154
[quote="shiv]I will donate my testimonials to the first person who can point me to any nation other than the US that has its Air Force accident data available open source like this.[/quote]

Incidentally, the USAF has two types of Inquiries into flg accidents; one version is for public consumption (accidents pre-1955: http://www.accident-report.com/usaf.html and current accidents I've yet to find, but I know its there), and the other version is purely in-house. The public version is honest and truthful (we have no reasons to doubt that) but does not bring out everything that the 'in-house' one does.


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PostPosted: 10 Aug 2005 09:20 
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BRF Oldie

Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Posts: 21667
Location: I have principles, and if you don't like them, I have others
Quote:
http://www.hindu.com/2005/08/10/stories ... 841100.htm

Preventing wet runway accidents

A. Ranganathan

ON AUGUST 2, 2005, an Air France A-340 overran the runway at Toronto. The aircraft was destroyed in a post-accident fire. Exactly a month earlier, a Bangladesh Biman DC-10, overran the runway at Chittagong. The aircraft suffered extensive damage. An Air India 747, which overran the runway at Mumbai on July 30, 2005, was lucky to escape with no damage except to reputations. Even before the enquiry got under way, several armchair pundits blamed the pilots. Are they aware of what is involved in a wet runway landing?

All the accidents mentioned took place while landing in heavy rain. All the planes involved experienced crosswind (where the surface wind blows from the side) and tailwind conditions. This combination is dangerous. During a heavy downpour the water depth can vary along the runway, depending on the condition and the slope. The aircraft wheels can hydroplane if the depth is sufficient to prevent them from making proper contact with the runway. This makes it very difficult to stop the aircraft within the confines of the runway.

Why do accidents happen on wet runways? The main reason is that the pilots do not get the correct information on the actual runway condition. The only information a pilot gets is that the runway is "wet."

What is a wet runway? For the pilot, the runway is considered "wet" when the depth of water on it is less than 3 mm. This is what the flight manuals state. If the depth is more than 3 mm, the runway comes in the category of "slippery" or "contaminated." These differences in water depths will change the actual landing distance by a very large amount.

The aircraft requires 40 per cent more runway to stop on a "wet" runway; on a contaminated runway the figure increases by 300 per cent. Thus, if an aircraft requires 6,000 feet of runway for a landing on dry runways, it would require 8,400 feet on a wet runway, and more than 18,000 feet of runway if the conditions are contaminated!

Thus, when a pilot receives a report that says the runway is wet, he assumes that the depth of water is less than 3 mm and that a 40 per cent addition to the landing distance will make for a safe landing. In reality, the actual depth of water on the runway can be as much as 3 inches during a heavy monsoon downpour. This would bring it into the "contaminated" category. In 30 years of airline flying, I have never heard of a runway condition report other than "wet."

Accidents on wet runways are on the increase. Experience levels of pilots in the airlines are dropping due to the rapid expansion of the aviation sector. Unfortunately, training and regulations are not keeping up with the times. There seems to be an unnecessary emphasis on testing pilots for manoeuvres that are next to impossible on modern jets such as 737NGs and the A-320s. This prevents airlines from using the available training time on simulators for carrying out exercises demanded by accident enquiry recommendations. Many of the accidents in the recent past have involved aircraft with old technology, without modern safety features that are inbuilt into new generations aircraft.

DGCA studies

Studies by the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have established that more than 45 per cent of all landing accidents take place during the monsoon or in heavy rain.

The DGCA constituted the Approach and Landing Accident Reduction task force in 2000, after the introduction of the topic by the Flight Safety Foundation of the U.S. I was a member of the Core Group of the ALAR India task Force. The objective of the ALAR project was to reduce landing accidents by 50 per cent in five years. Officials of the Airports Authority of India were members of the task force. In spite of being aware of the accident statistics, nothing significant has been done to improve the runway conditions nor has there been any effort to make the airport environment safer. Not a single runway in India is grooved.

During the deluge in Mumbai last month, the airfield was completely contaminated with slush and debris. The secondary runway was opened for operation without even carrying out proper runway friction tests. Runway 14 has a down slope towards the second half, and this makes it positively dangerous during heavy rain.

Building grooved runways, investing in modern runway friction recording equipment, and proactive runway condition reporting are essential for making landings safe. What is required is commitment to flight safety.

(Capt. Ranganathan, an airline pilot with 19,000 hours experience, specialises in accident prevention studies.)


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PostPosted: 10 Aug 2005 11:22 
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BRFite -Trainee

Joined: 19 Apr 2005 23:26
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Location: East Lansing, MI
You should never never never be landing in tailwind conditions to begin with. Tailwind means wave off and come from the other side. It isn't entirely the pilot's fault, but more caution should be advised.

Most crashes occur from pilot error of some degree so if it doesn't affect civilian flying or is a mechanical failure, it shouldn't be of enormous concern to the general civil aviation.


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PostPosted: 10 Aug 2005 12:17 
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BRFite -Trainee

Joined: 09 May 2005 16:31
Posts: 25
Location: Dubai
Some accidents occur by such silly mistakes that it looks impossible unless its proved.
few days back i saw on Nat Geo Aircraft Investigation that an Air france plane crashed after takeoff just bcos of a duct tape on the Altimeter and Speedometer Pitots. The duct tape on the pitots is a procedure when the fuselage of the aircraft is cleaned. However the duct tape must be removed after cleaning. failure to do so in this case caused more then 150 lives.
Now who will believe that a small piece of duct tape caused the plane to crash.
The reason for the Concorde to crash was also very surprising; a small piece of metal strip on the runway.


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PostPosted: 10 Aug 2005 13:34 
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BRFite

Joined: 22 Sep 2000 11:31
Posts: 121
Location: London U.K
KSandy wrote:
The reason for the Concorde to crash was also very surprising; a small piece of metal strip on the runway.


Do you have any idea of the metal re-inforcement built into a aircraft tyre? The concorde tyres had aluminium 'bars' with a diameter of 60-80 mm in it and when one of those tyres explode it is like a 10 kg RDX bomb going off with shrapnel flying out in all directions.

So I am not surprised that Concorde didn't survive!!!


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PostPosted: 11 Aug 2005 16:55 
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BRFite -Trainee

Joined: 09 May 2005 16:31
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Location: Dubai
Yes sir i know abt metal reinforcements on tyres. But i meant to say that a small piece of metal on the runway can cause a huge concorde to crash.
what you said about tyre explosion is exactly what happened
the metal piece puntured the tyre which exploded under immense pressure. a piece of the ruptured tyre around a feet in length hit the belly of the concorde near the fuel tank. the piece struck the belly so hard that the shock wave created by the impact was enough to fracture a fuel supply line. fuel started flowingout of the concorde. Simultaneously a small wire related to the retracting mechanism of the landing gear got severed. the sparks created ignited the fuel and the left engine of concorde was on fire. when the pilot came to know of the flames, it was too late for the concorde to stop and had to takeoff with the flames. but since no fuel was going to left engine, the plane could gain altitude and crashed.
All this as per Nat Geo.


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PostPosted: 11 Aug 2005 22:51 
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BRFite -Trainee

Joined: 19 Apr 2005 23:26
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Location: East Lansing, MI
Those are things a pilot can't control, but the sad truth remains that most accidents occur from pilot error. Why the pilot didn't spot the pitot malfunction is beyond me, and making poor judgements like that need to be stopped, especially with the A380s flying around soon!


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