Both pilots eject safely with parachutes; Court of Inquiry ordered to ascertain cause of accident
Chamarajanagar: Two pilots of a light-weight Indian Air Force (IAF) Kiran Jet Trainer aircraft (HAL HJT-16 Kiran) had a providential escape after ejecting themselves from their plane before it crashed and turned into a fireball this noon.
The incident occurred at around 12 noon at H. Mookalli in Chamarajanagar near Bhogapura village. Both the pilots (one male and another female) managed to eject and landed with the help of two parachutes.
Villagers and the Police, however, spotted the pilots lying on the ground exhausted and writhing in pain.
IAF sources and the Police said that the pilots have been identified as 50-year-old Wing Commander Tejpal, the chief trainer and 28-year-old Bhoomika, the trainee. The plane took off from Bengaluru this morning for a routine sortie.
Soon after the incident, the IAF tweeted: “A Kiran trainer aircraft of the IAF crashed near Chamarajanagar, Karnataka today, while on a routine training sortie. Both aircrew ejected safely. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.”
The HAL HJT-16 Kiran is an Indian two-seat Intermediate Jet-powered Trainer Aircraft designed and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for training purposes.
According to villagers, they heard a loud blast in the air and saw the plane plummeting towards the ground. Meanwhile, the pilots managed to eject and land with their parachutes. The impact of the crash was such that the plane crashed three to four kilometres away from the place where the pilots had landed.
The plane split into two and while the cockpit and the steering gear of the aircraft were found at Mookalli, the rest of the plane’s smoking debris were found at Bhogapura village burial ground. Villagers and the Police said that Wing Commander Tejpal and Bhoomika have sustained injuries.
The incident occurred under the jurisdiction of Chamarajanagar Rural Police Station and rescue teams reached the spot from Bengaluru within an hour. Three to four IAF choppers landed at the crash site and near the place where the pilots had landed and one of the choppers air-lifted the injured pilots to Bengaluru.
A team of engineers and experts from HAL and IAF are looking for clues at the crash site and are in the process of retrieving the Flight Data Recorder, commonly called the Black Box, to ascertain the real cause of the accident. The Black Box is an instrument that records all the activities of the aeroplane during its flight.
Hundreds of villagers gathered at the spot to see the wreckages and the Police were having a tough time in controlling the crowd.
We heard a loud sound up in the air and saw the plane plummeting to the ground. We also saw two pilots ejecting from the plane with their parachutes. We rushed to the spot and the plane was burning and there was none. Later, we found the pilots three to four kilometres away. Me and my friend Chandru then called the Police and the press.” — Bhogapura Mahesh