An Indian air force inquiry into the crash of one of its brand-new BAE Systems Hawk 132 advanced jet trainers at Bidar air base on 29 April has revealed that pilot error and miscommunication between the crews of two aircraft that were taking off simultaneously were responsible for the accident.

The aircraft was destroyed, but its pilot ejected safely.

A brief grounding order imposed following the mishap has contributed to a delay in BAE meeting its planned delivery schedule for 24 UK-built Hawks from India's 66-aircraft, $1.75 billion deal. The remainder will be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics. The Indian air force - which has now received 12 aircraft - also says some deficiencies have been found in its initial examples, citing "corrosion in some hydraulic pipes, oxygen leaks and a malfunction of the quick disconnect equipment connector".

BAE confirms that it is working with its customer to address some "outstanding issues". It adds: "Both parties are keen to ensure the rigorous acceptance procedures continue. We fully expect the Indian air force to be able to commence flying training with their new Hawks during the summer."

The Indian defence ministry also plans to buy a second batch of 40 Hawks for the air force, plus 17 for the navy.

India's air force has recorded more than 170 aircraft mishaps since 1970, during which 180 pilots have lost their lives. Around half of the accidents were subsequently blamed on human error.


Source: Flight International