Early Data On Yesterday’s IAF Jaguar Crash
IAF trainee pilot Flt Lt Siddhartha Pandey, who tragically perished in a Jaguar ground attack aircraft crash yesterday, was on a low-level navigation syllabus sortie from the Gorakhpur Air Force Station, and was accompanied by a senior pilot in chase in another Jaguar. Flt Lt Pandey had been on a simulated attack run at ultra low level (below 300 feet to avoid radar) from initial point to target, completed in roughly 2.5 minutes. However, the pilot missed his target, the reasons for which will be part of the court of inquiry. His chase instructor radioed in asking him to turn back and redo the attack manoeuver. Now the normal drill during such training is to pull up to at least 500 feet, turn around, descend at your initial point and go back for the sim attack. Tragically, for reasons still unknown, Flt Lt Pandey began turning around at less than 300 feet, bleeding altitude all the while. The investigation will look into several human and technical factors. Of the latter, the possibilities include an inexplicable breakdown of the entire (or parts of the) flight control system, including the auto-stabilizer system or pitch trim controller, both overwhelmingly critical at such low altitude where reaction time is wafer thin.