One pilot ejected in Naval plane crash

New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) One of the two pilots killed when a Naval aircraft crashed into a building in Hyderabad Wednesday had ejected but his parachute did not fully open, a top Navy official said here.

‘Lt. Commander Rahul Nair, who was the co-pilot of Commander S.K. Maurya, had ejected. His parachute could not be fully deployed because of the low height. Maurya went down with the plane. Both were killed in the crash,’ said a Navy official.

According to standard operating procedures, the co-pilot first ejects in case of any emergency. He is followed by the pilot.

After the crash, the Navy has grounded its fleet of 20 HJT-16 Kiran Mk aircraft till the board of enquiry is completed and all the aircraft undergo inspection. Sources say the planes are likely to remain grounded till Friday.

The Navy had inducted these trainer aircraft in 1970.

Out of these 20 HJT-16 Kiran Mk aircraft, 12 are Mark 1 and the other eight are Mark 2 aircraft.

‘This is the first accident of Kiran aircraft in the past 10 years and first of Sagar Pawan aerobatics display team since its inception in 2003,’ the official said.

The last accident of Kiran in Indian Navy took place in December 1999. The plane crashed in a Goa railway yard.

The aircraft which crashed Wednesday was supplied to the Indian Navy by the Hindustan Aeronautical in 1997. It was a Mark 2 aircraft.

According to Navy officials, one Kiran on an average flies 700-800 hours per year. ‘The accident rate in the past 10 years has been one in 10,000 hours,’ the official said.

Sagar Pawan is one of the two Naval aerobatics teams in the world, the other being the Blue Angels of the US Navy.

It has participated in over 100 air shows in the past seven years, the last one being a fortnight ago in Goa. The Sagar Pawan team has 16-17 pilots and on an average eight pilots are available for operational purposes.

The Navy said Commander Maurya, who was commissioned in the Navy in 1993, has been with the Sagar Pawan team since 2004. Maurya, 39, is survived by his wife. He hailed from Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

Nair, 34, was commissioned in the Navy 1998. He is survived by his wife and a three-year-old son.

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