Saturday, July 29, 2017

IAF flew 9 unairworthy IL-76s

Chandigarh: In what may have compromised operational missions and posed a high risk to human life as well as aircraft, the Indian Air Force continued to fly its IL-76 heavy-lift aircraft well past the expiry of their prescribed technical life.
The IAF has a fleet of 14 IL-76s, of which nine continued to fly well past their due date for overhaul because of administrative delays. Low availability of aircraft and old avionics are among other factors ailing the IL-76 fleet.
“On an average, these aircraft flew 107 hours without the second overhaul even when their prescribed life had expired and extension of life was yet to be duly approved. By doing so, the IAF had taken an operational risk besides risk to the air assets and human life,” the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) observed in its report tabled in Parliament today.
The IL-76 is extensively used to airlift men and material to forward areas, particularly in winter. A Chandigarh-Leh sortie takes about an hour. The aircraft is also used to ferry heavy equipment during disaster relief operations and for other strategic tasks.
The aircraft were procured from the erstwhile USSR between 1985 and 1989 and their first overhaul was due after five years of induction, which was later extended to 10 years.
CAG revealed that nine aircraft were flown from 30 to 400 hours before the first overhaul. The second overhaul, during which it is assessed whether the life of the aircraft can be extended beyond the initially prescribed 20 years, was delayed from one year to over seven years.
28/07/17 Vijay Mohan/Tribune