India doesn’t have a temporary trainer aircraft

HPT-32 doesn't have a replacement for now

HPT-32 doesn't have a replacement for now

BANGALORE: The Indian Air Force has written to the government asking that it be permitted to recommence ab initio flying training of around 140 cadets at the Air Force Academy (AFA) at Dundigal near Hyderabad.

The IAF’s letter comes in the wake of the grounding of the entire fleet of its basic trainer — the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited-manufactured Hindustan Piston Trainer-32 (HPT-32) and suspension of stage-I basic flying training.

The grounding soon after the July 31 crash of a HPT-32 in Andhra Pradesh’s Medak district, in which two senior flying instructors were killed, means that cadets at present do not have a basic trainer, in which they take their first flying lessons.

Kirans

Indian Kirans

Further, the life of the intermediate Kirans, which are of 1960s vintage, may get drastically reduced, making them unavailable for the IAF’s intermediate flying training.

In its letter, the IAF has also asked that the process of finding a new basic trainer which will replace HPT-32 be fast tracked. For, getting the grounded HPT-32 back in action “would not happen in the near future.”

The IAF is also not prepared to re-accept HPT-32 until the HAL and the engine manufacturer, Lycoming Engines, jointly certify that the trainer is safe for flying.

Officials at the HAL disclosed that a committee was formed to look into the modifications needed before the trainer becomes safe for flying.

But the HAL record over the past 20 years in making numerous modifications to the HPT-32’s fuel system has been ineffective.

HPT-32 crashMeanwhile, preliminary findings of the Court of Inquiry into the July 31 crash show that the trainer suffered an ‘engine cut’ (a situation where the engine suddenly switches-off) in mid-air. The two pilots’ efforts to restart the engine failed, leading to the crash.

For the IAF, the engine cuts on HPT-32 have been disastrous what with 90 such incidents reported since it became operational in 1984.

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