New Delhi: The AN-32 aircraft of Indian Air Force (IAF) which crashed in Arunachal Pradesh killing all 13 personnel on board was completely airworthy, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh informed the Rajya Sabha, Monday.
Singh also informed the Upper House that the accident rate per 10,000 flying hours in the IAF has come down from 1.04 in 1999 to 0.33 currently.
Singh termed the accident as ‘unfortunate’ but made it clear that there was no problem with the airworthiness of the aircraft.
“I want to assure the House that our AN-32 fleet is airworthy and there was no problem. But this incident happened, which is very unfortunate,” Singh told the House.
“The average accident rate has reduced from 1.04 per 10,000 flying hours in 1999 to 0.52 in 2004. This further decreased to 0.46 in the next five years and currently the accident rate is 0.33,” added the Defence Minister.
The Defence Minister said a court of inquiry had been ordered within hours of the incident, and only after the report is submitted, the reasons for the accident will be ascertained.
“As far as planes are concerned, particularly AN-32 planes, so far 52 have been upgraded, but we cannot say that those planes which have not been upgraded yet are not airworthy. It would not be fair to assume so,” Singh informed.
“If there was no improvement, the rate of accidents per 10,000 flying hours would not have come down. There must have been many improvements brought about,” asserted Singh, while replying to a question on whether any steps have been taken to prevent air accidents.
Singh told the House that the upgradation of aircraft is a regular process and told a member that the MIG-29s would also come under it soon.
To another question, the Defence Minister informed the House that 6,900 war widows have been provided training so far. A suggestion to call war widows as ‘Shaheed Patni’ was also given by BJP member Vinay Sahasrebuddhe.
Singh also said that the OROP demand of ex-servicemen was there for 40 years and the previous NDA government implemented it within a year of coming to power.