smoke gets in your eyes



smoke gets in your eyes
Sqn Ldr Tejinder Singh
iterally, pressure is defined as force per
unit area. This force is the one exerted
from outside. Drawing analogy to humans,
pressure is created from the external environment
when our body or mind is not harmonised to
external conditions. This creates stress on an
individual and manifests in poor mental or
physical health. The important feature associated
with pressure and stress on an individual is the
increase in error potential during routine tasks.
In everyday life, excess workload creates
pressure and consequent stress. The word ‘excess’
is subjective and differs between two individuals
Aerospace Safety
J u l y
depending on one’s mental make-up. This has
the potential of creating costly errors in aviation.
Pressure and stress are intangibles, i.e they cannot
be measured and thus the individual is the sole
judge of his threshold limits. The instances of
high pressure and stress on an airwarrior are
innumerable and some could have disastrous
“I was posted to a Mi-8 unit as an EO. Being
the only twin engined helicopter unit under
command HQs, the pressure of task completion
could be seen on every air warrior. At one
point of time, a helicopter which was about to
2 0 10
The helicopter was offered for a ground run once again, but
it remained unserviceable. Similarly, a third attempt was made
by changing yet another component but the problem remained
complete 200 hrs servicing was detected with an
autopilot snag. As this helicopter was earmarked
for an important commitment the next day, panic
spread amongst all technicians to rectify the snag
at the earliest.
The tradesmen could not analyse the snag
thoroughly and suspected one of the components
to be faulty. Thus, in their haste they cannibalised
this component from an AOG aircraft and offered it
for a ground run. During the ground run, the ‘yaw
channel’ continued to behave erratically and the
aircraft was declared unserviceable.
a particular relay was malfunctioning. It took us
almost five hours to reach a definite conclusion
that one relay was malfunctioning resulting in the
unserviceability of the autopilot ‘yaw channel’.
By the time, we completed rectification & the
other gang completed their servicing, it was close
to midnight. Next day, when the aircraft was offered
for ground run, no abnormality was observed in the
‘yaw channel’. The aircraft was declared serviceable
and the planned commitment went through
Lessons Learnt
The tradesmen after a brief discussion
decided to change the replaced component and
cannibalised another part that they suspected to
be faulty. The helicopter was offered for a ground
run once again, but it remained unserviceable.
Similarly, a third attempt was made by changing
yet another component but the problem remained
unchanged. By now, the sun had set and it had
become dark outside.
With time, pressure kept mounting on all. The
flight commander and the STO deliberated on all
available options and finally decided tocontinue
rectification at night inside the hangar and
check aircraft serviceability in the morning. As
an alternative, it was also decided that another
aircraft due for 25 hrs servicing would be taken
up immediately. Thus, one gang was detailed to
carry out 25 hrs servicing, whereas the instrument
tradesmen and I got into rectifying the yaw channel
snag of the main helicopter.
Servicing and rectification commenced
in earnest under artificial lighting. We started
rectification from scratch, replacing all cannibalised
components first and then instead of opening
up the helicopter, we sat down with the system
manual and circuit diagrams to narrow down to
2 0 1 0
The snag which could have been rectified in the
first time took three attempts under pressure from
various quarters.
The tradesmen followed the wrong practice
of carrying out rectification without analysing the
snag accurately.
The decision to undertake 25 hrs servicing
should have been taken much earlier and not at the
last moment. Making the tradesmen, undertake 25
hrs servicing at night under artificial light increases
the potential of human error.
Adhoc decisions taken led to wastage of
manpower, in cannibalising various components
and for the pilot who gave three unsuccessful
ground runs.
By analysing this seemingly small occurrence,
it is clear that working under pressure deteriorates
efficiency. It is up to the supervisors to plan
efficiently and not succumb to pressures down the
chain. This would go a long way in creating a safe
flying environment.
- Sqn Ldr Tejinder Singh AE(L).
J u l y
Aerospace Safety
Sqn Ldr B Deb
t was in December 2007, when I was posted
to a flying unit in the North- East as the EO of a
helicopter unit. My day work used to start with
finalising hours available against each aircraft and
scrutinising the previous aircraft state.
At about 0800 hrs one morning, our DSS
was bustling with activity. I was working on the
TCR computer & minutely verifying aircraft data,
when I heard the hum of an approaching An-32
taxying towards the ‘Igloo Hangar’. This hangar
did earn the name typically due to its shape and
opening from both sides. Inside the hangar, there
were trade rooms laid on either side, & a ground
equipment bay. I was disturbed by the aircraft
noise since the sound reverberated inside the
confines of the hangar. As I walked to the hangar,
I saw a helicopter Z-XYZ being towed from the
dispersal to this Igloo hangar. As a matter of fact,
the level of the dispersal area was not level with
the hangar floor. A concrete slope separated the
two levels. The slope towards the hangar floor
had a marked gradient towards the parking bay
area. I clearly remember the sight of the bay
closest to the hangar, which was occupied by a
helicopter lashed & covered. As the aircraft was
towed through the restricted space available
between the parked aircraft and the hangar
Aerospace Safety
J u l y
entrance, it had to turn almost 30 degrees, to
align itself with the hangar axis. The respective
position of the towing gang was correct, since
towing in and out of the hangar was a routine
practice for them. A tractor pulled the helicopter
by a towing arm having attachment points in
the nose undercarriage. The tractor was driven
over the concrete slope and was about to move
inside the hangar when the aircraft’s longitudinal
axis tilted to an angle of about 30 degrees with
respect to the towing arm. As the tractor moved
down the concrete slope, the towed chopper was
pulled angularly and from a different plane as the
tractor was in the hangar i.e., at a lower level.
There was a big noise heard above the staccato
of an An-32 engine that was still moving close.
Due to a jerk, the towing arm snapped from inside
and the tractor just drove away. Meanwhile, the
nose wheel which had passed the concrete slope
and the helicopter, gained enough speed to roll
inside the hangar and cover a distance of 15 feet
totally loose. It finally stopped on its own and
two of its rotor blades went over the trade room
roof, fortunately without touching any of the
extended trusses below the hangar. I sure was
petrified while all this happened. As soon as I got
over the shock, I rushed inside the helicopter to
check the pneumatic brake lever that should have
2 0 10
been used in such an emergency. On entering
the cockpit, I recollected the aircraft state that
morning which had the presence of one aircraft
with a “Pneumatic system snag, air pressure not
holding” and this was the same machine.
This incident had a lasting impression on me
and many nights in succession, I dreamt of the
same incident with catastrophic results. Finally,
one morning I went straight to the Station
Commander’s office and explained the entire
sequence of events along with suitable measures
to avoid recurrence. The only thing he asked was
whether I had informed my CO. Since, both the CO
& Flt Cdr were out of station for a detachment, the
details stayed with me alone. My initiative held
good, the usage of igloo hangar was temporarily
involvement by all concerned was present.
Supervisors, must look into mundane things and
analyse all that can go wrong to rectify flaws in
Regular checks of ground equipment must be
done meticulously. This may help in identifying
grey areas in time.
While towing an aircraft with pneumatic
leak, adequate measures must be taken to stop
the aircraft in the eventuality of the towing arm
- Sqn Ldr B Deb AE(L).
stopped till the concrete slope was flattened and
a one time check carried out on the serviceability
of the towing arms. Later on, hundreds of
unanswered questions flashed through my mind
based on the incident which left me wondering,
“Had I been doing enough?” and more
recently “Am I doing enough?”
Lessons Learnt
Some of the lessons I
learnt were : All air warriors
should be proactive
The slope
the hangar and the
parking area outside
addressed in the design
phase itself. If appropriate
2 0 1 0
J u l y
Aerospace Safety
Wg Cdr (Retd) Sanjiv Sharma
This includes learning about
the system and its supporting
arms i.e. ability for effective
resource management. Another
development, as evident in
‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ and
Afghanistan operations, is optimal
integration of resources with field
commanders taking real time
decisions based on reconnaissance
systems on AWACS.
rew resource management (CRM) is a learned preventive approach, enabling a
pilot to make effective utilisation of all available resources, including hardware,
software and live ware (personnel), to achieve safe and efficient flight operations.
With a major focus of training in the Indian Air Force (IAF) on single pilots in fighter
cockpits, the proven multi-crew CRM programme needs to be introduced, albeit with
modifications, for the benefit of single cockpit pilots. This is to make them effective
military pilots fulfilling objectives and goals, including safe flights.
Aerospace Safety
Mual yy
0 10
The present day training programme for the
IAF pilots, as elsewhere,
continues following
the classical principles of demonstration and
explanation,with emphasis on developing individual
skills and ability. This remains almost the same as
started by Major Smith-Berry of the US Army in the
early days of aviation. Each pilot pursues his flying
skill development under his mentor, the Qualified
Flying Instructor (QFI), focusing on individual
training and technical proficiency. The ‘Airmanship’
classes have elementary focus on responsibilities
of the formation leader in fighter aircraft and the
captain in helicopter and transport fleets.
On the other hand, rapid progress in aviation
and integration of resources justifies the need for
dedicated CRM training for fighter pilots. Military
aircraft are software laden advanced flying
platforms for effective weapon delivery. There has
been a sea-change in the role of the pilot from the
throttle and stick person to that of the “Airborne
Platform Manager”. This change in role from an
active performer to a vigilance task administrator
intervening appropriately, requires change in
mindset and appropriate training. This includes
learning about the system and its supporting
arms i.e. ability for effective resource management.
Another development, as evident in ‘Operation Iraqi
Freedom’ and Afghanistan operations, is optimal
integration of resources with field commanders
taking real time decisions based on reconnaissance
systems on AWACS. In future, airborne controllers
would guide the combat teams, taking off from
several airfields, to launch simultaneous attacks
inside enemy territory. Thus each aircrew, despite
being alone in the cockpit, would be an integral
part of a formation or a combat team.
exercises, where formations from different bases
participate to fulfill assigned objectives. During
such exercises, combat pilots flying in formations
require close coordination amongst each other.
Human Error Accidents
An informal analysis of Human Error (HE)
accidents in one of our operational commands
had revealed a pattern of errors. The findings
were similar to analysis of accidents elsewhere in
the world which broadly classified causes of HE
accidents into loss of situational awareness; poor
decision making, judgement and behavioural
traits. Such causes lead to a host of incidents
and few unfortunate accidents. This includes
disorientation, compromised situational awareness,
poor or irrational judgement, violation of SOPs and
regulations, aircraft operation beyond one’s own
or aircraft capabilities, mid-air collision, flight into
terrain, getting lost and running out of fuel, wheels
up landing and flight into bad weather.
analysis of aircrew factors leading to
incidents and accidents, undertaken by a renowned
human factors expert, revealed apparently
insignificant or minor factors. The factors are listed
as follows:
Inadequate leadership
Failure to
Failure to set priorities
Therefore, the classic individual proceduralbased training must be supplemented by fullmission training to adequately prepare future
pilots for the challenges of modern day aviation
Conventionally, pilots undergo
realistic mission training during peacetime for
operational preparedness. This is carried out at the
squadron level and tested during command level
Inadequate monitoring
Failure to utilise available data
Failure to communicate intent and plans
2 0
1 0 J uM
l ya y
Sqn Ldr Manvendra Singh
his happened during night flying at a base
where two fighter squadrons were located.
ATC operations used to start with sunrise
and continue beyond cessation of night flying.
This resulted in increased workload for all air
warriors involved in ATC operations, as they had
to overcome adverse weather, heat and cold.
Before I proceed further, a word about our base.
Not more than two aircraft were permitted
to line up for a formation take off due to poor
runway surface conditions. Thus, it doubled
the runway occupancy time as well as airspace
requirements for executing a pick up orbit in a
four aircraft formation.
No aircraft was permitted to taxy behind
another one on the parallel taxy track (PTT) when
Aerospace Safety
J u l y
there was an aircraft on Operational Readiness
Platform (ORP) due to insufficient gap between
the runway and PTT that could cause FOD to the
following aircraft.
One of the squadron is located across the
runway and so the runway had to be crossed each
time an aircraft left or returned to its dispersal.
This had the potential to cause aircraft traffic
snarls if taken lightly.
Aircraft operating north of base at times
reported intermittent RT contact on radar. Thus,
frequently they maintained on Tower frequency
while flying in sector.
The bird menace was acute as the base was
located in proximity to a bird sanctuary. This
2 0 10
A controller’s primary job of separating aircraft and
effective utilisation of airspace can only be achieved when
he/she knows the exact position of an aircraft that can be
ascertained by the base radar.
required a controller to look out and implement
available methods of bird scaring so that there
was no bird in the path of an aircraft in flight.
Change of runway due to change in wind
direction was also a regular occurrence. Over
a period of time, both aircrew and controllers
accepted these phenomena and understood the
consequences of change.
by the base radar. At this base, the job of the
controller became more challenging as there
was no radar guidance available with them to
identify various aircraft flying in circuit, sectors
and during rejoins and departures. This incident
brings out the importance of such aids as well as
the awareness of controllers and pilots in hectic
The Incident
Despite these restrictions and local constraints
flying was undertaken smoothly by proactive
coordination with all support services.
A controller’s primary job of separating
aircraft and effective utilisation of airspace can
only be achieved when he/she knows the exact
position of an aircraft that can be ascertained
2 0 1 0
One of the fighter squadrons had planned
night flying. Two senior supervisors were airborne
with U/T pilots for a general handling sortie in
sector followed by circuit flying. Generally, for
night flying the runway in use remained 30 but
this night it was 12 due to change in surface wind
direction. Both the aircraft had got airborne from
J u l y
Aerospace Safety
runway 12 and proceeded to their respective
sectors. After while, one of them joined circuit
for runway 12 and continued with circuits and
overshoots. Soon, the other aircraft also rejoined.
I asked the other pilot to report dead side at
1 Km and transmitted him airfield and traffic
information that was acknowledged. On dead
side, I further cleared him to turn down wind for
runway 12 and cleared descent after crossing
take off path for 12. Meanwhile, the first aircraft
had already reported downwind for 12. Now, the
second aircraft reported crossing take off path.
I looked at the CADF and to my surprise observed
that instead of reducing homings, I could see
an increase in homings. I immediately asked
the pilot to check position so that I could check
indications once more time. When the pilot
transmitted again, I realised that he had turned
for the wrong runway. I asked him to climb to a
height of one km and report dead side again for
R/W 12. At this time, the first aircraft was either at
the runway end or the beginning of base for 12.
Had this gone unnoticed, both aircraft would have
flown into each other head on while in circuit.
could not convey this mistake in time to his
instructor. It is always better to clarify than to
wait for disaster to happen.
Had there been radar picture in ATC, this
situation would have come to notice much earlier.
However, a proactive approach by the controller
avoided a possible disaster. All controllers and
pilots need to be always proactive while on duty
even when air traffic is less.
- Sqn Ldr Manvendra Singh Adm/A TC.
Lessons Learnt:
The pilot in the second aircraft was
responsible for conduct of operations,training and
correspondence in his squadron. It is probable
that due to hectic routine in the squadron he
may be preoccupied with other thoughts and
therefore turned for the incorrect runway. It is
also likely that he was busy in the cockpit in
correcting the trainee. Thus, one must know ones
mental and physical state before planning one’s
flying schedule.
Seniors should ensure that work is divided
evenly and there is no stress in the flying
The U/T pilot could have given notice to
the instructor while joining the wrong circuit.
Probably, the TCAG (trans cockpit authority
gradient) factor dominated and the U/T pilot
Aerospace Safety
J u l y
2 0 10
Loss of night vision is an
important but often overlooked
problem caused by cigarette
Briefly, the carbon
monoxide in cigarette smoke
and reduces the blood’s oxygen
carrying ability. As you probably
remember from your last chamber
flight, eyes are one of the first
things affected by low oxygen
levels. Smoking three cigarettes
just before take off can reduce
your night vision as much as the
effect of 8000 ft of altitude.
Compared to a heavy smoker’s
other problems, this partial loss
of night vision probably isn’t too
important - but it does exist and is
another reason to kick the habit. If
you haven’t done so yet, remember
there is one sure way - cancer cures
Aviator Resource Management (ARM) : Unravelling CRM for the single cockpit pilot.
Incidentally a large number of these accidents
occur during formation flying by fighter aircraft.
It was reported that there were 48 accidents due
to Human Error (Aircrew) (HE (A) between 1998
to 2004. Half of those accidents were during
formation flying, including 22 involving fighter
aircraft in some phase of formation flying or other.
This also caused 16 fatalities amongst fighter
pilots alone. One such accident was a mid-air
collision between two Jaguars in the Valley in
May 2004.
The probable reason for high number
of accidents during formation flying in the
fighter fleet is increased workload. This occurs
because fighter pilots in formation require close
coordination amongst each other. The physical
separation of the formation crew increases the
need for mutual support, imposing additional
requirements of maintaining communication
with each other, for safe and effective conduct
of the mission. This increases mental workload
and requires extra efforts on part of all crew.
Such factors in an emergency situation could
hamper decision making or may contribute to
a major catastrophe.
Need for dedicated
Management (ARM)
There is a need to strengthen safe flight by
adapting a proactive approach for pilots flying
single cockpit aircraft. There is a need to ARM
them; ARM here stands for Aviator Resource
Management, a dedicated CRM training focussed
on the necessity for highly trained individual
pilots in fighter cockpits to work together as a
team without undermining traditional pilot skills
and airmanship. ARM is meant to resolve the
inherent problems of integrating a collection of
technically proficient individuals into an effective
team for all situations. This team effort aims at
making military aviation safer and more efficient.
2 0 1 0
The premise of ARM is to reduce human error
accidents. At individual level, ARM results in
positive motivation, learning and changing mental
attitudes. The behavioural markers of ARM trained
pilots are adequate preparation, good planning,
sustained vigilance and effective workload
management. This is the aim for each pilot. The
long term payoff of ARM based value system is
effective training for efficiency and safety.
An ARM programme in the IAF is the need
of the hour. Such training should include
“communicating basic knowledge of human
factors that relates to aviation and providing tools
necessary to apply these concepts operationally”.
Ideally ARM programmes must be implemented
as part of trainee-pilot’s learning process during
early operational training in phases. Thereafter
refreshers shall be required as they progress in their
career, for them to apply ARM during operational
exercises and live missions, remaining safe and
successful, every time.
The advocacy for
ARM is based on the
basic principle that
is modifiable. Thus
once a correct value system
is implanted, with appropriate and validated
training, it stays for a life time. The objective of
ARM is to maintain task attention and situational
awareness, to enhance safe and efficient operation
of aircraft, for mission accomplishment. The goal
of proposed ARM programme shall be “Increased
Safety, Enhanced Effectiveness and Improved
Efficiency of Operations”. An additional benefit of
an individual undergoing behavioural learning,
ARM, shall not only be an asset to pilots, but
would help in accident reduction and thus benefit
the IAF as well.
- Wg Cdr (Retd) Sanjiv Sharma (Med).
J u l y
Aerospace Safety
ilots depend on ‘see-and-avoid’ as their
primary way to avoid collisions.
according to scientific and operational
evidence, see-and-avoid is not necessarily
the best technique. Instead, safety in visual
meteorological conditions (VMC) depends on
a pilot’s use of specific, active visual-detection
techniques. The evidence suggests that the
human eyeball may be more effectively used
to avoid mid-air incidents through a conscious
search-and-detect-rather than seek-detect-avoid
Most pilots know from experience that
visually detecting another aircraft in airspace is
difficult, and in some circumstances it is virtually
Aerospace Safety
J u l y
impossible. Some studies suggest that the ability
to spot another aircraft may be a skill that pilots
can develop. The research points to four key
elements of successful target acquisition:
Ignoring conflicting or distracting close-up
and peripheral stimuli
Optimizing the eye-brain connection to
visually imagine distant targets.
through” (or
Using a distant object to adjust focus for
2 0 10
traffic in a clear, featureless sky. Because the eye
cannot properly focus on empty space, it remains
in a state of unfocused, or blurred, vision. This
phenomenon, known as empty-field myopia,
hinders effective search and detection.
Eye-Brain Connection
establishes the importance of the eye-brain
connection in collision avoidance. The evidence
indicates that there are two separate and parallel
visual channels in the brain, each of which is
directly linked to the ability to search and detect.
One channel responds to the visual functions of
target detection and acquisitions. It contains both
rods and cones and allows the brain to interpret
peripheral vision.
Figure 2 : Saccadic Eye Movement
Another aspects of eye functioning that
is relevant to visual searching is saccadic eye
movement. When they are not tracking a moving
target, the eyes do not shift smoothly; they shift
in a series of jerky movements or jumps called
saccades. As a result of saccadic eye movements,
it is not possible to make voluntary, smooth eye
movements while scanning featureless space.
Figure 1
The second channel originates from the fovea
(the area of sharpest acuity), making it possible to
identify a target. These two channels converge in
a third pathway, which researchers believe may
integrate these peripheral and central inputs in a
way that enables the eyes simultaneously to focus
on and track a moving target. This ability is a key to
visual search and detect.
Eye Movement
In the absence of a visual stimulus (for example,
empty airspace), the muscles in the eye relax,
preventing the lens from focusing. This creates a
problem for a pilot who is attempting to scan for
2 0 1 0
Distant Visual Acuity
A study conducted at the U.S Naval Aerospace
Medical Research Laboratory (NAMRL) showed that
when the eyes are in saccadic movement, visual
acuity decreases sharply, leaving large gaps in the
distant field of vision. Visual acuity is greatest for
objects that are directly in front of the eye. But the
fovea is a mere 2 degrees wide, which results in a
very narrow high acuity detection area and leaves
as much as 178 degrees of the detection area in
the realm of peripheral vision. This is one reason
that we often tend to spot traffic or obstacles out
of the “corner” of our eye.
J u l y
Aerospace Safety
Researchers at NAMRL found that optimizing
peripheral-scanning skills is an important
element in improving target-detection skills. The
visual-detection lobe, as Fig 3 illustrates, reveals
the detection range for central vision is narrow
but extends relatively far, whereas the detection
range for peripheral vision includes a wider area
but extends to a much shorter distance. The
visual detection lobe represents the range in
which detection is probable, not certain.
The shaded areas in Fig 2 depict how the visual
detection lobe relates to saccadic eye-movement
scans. For distant searches using central vision the
eyes must scan over a much larger field, compared
to near searches, in a relatively short period of
time. The spaces between the tips of the coneshaped shaded areas shown in the figure are the
visual gaps created by saccadic motion. These
gaps cause a significant problem for a pilot who
is scanning for traffic because aircraft can easily
slip into those transition areas undetected. When
searching for aircraft at a closer range, within 2
to 2 ½ miles (approximately 3.7 kilometers), for
example, fewer “fixations” (focused scans) are
required because of the increased probability of
detecting a target through peripheral vision.
In Fig 3, the same type of aircraft is shown in
three position – A, B and C, in the central field of
vision, is likely to be detected. Aircraft B, although
it is at the same range as Aircraft A, is outside the
visual detection lobe and unlikely to be detected.
Aircraft C is the same number of degrees off the
direct line of vision as Aircraft B; but because it is
within the visual detection lobe, it is likely to be
detected through peripheral vision.
Depending on closure rate, crossing angle,
and routine cockpit distractions, aircraft can
seem to appear suddenly, leaving little time to
react and avoid a collision.
The effectiveness of central and peripheral
detection also depends on restrictions in the
visual field. In an aircraft, the most common
Figure 3 :
Aerospace Safety
J u l y
2 0 10
restriction is the visual boundary created by the
overall structure of the cockpit. The visual field of
each eye encompasses about 130 degrees. The
visual field of each eye overlaps with that of the
other eye, which creates our “binocular” (two-eyed)
Because each eye has a different viewing
angle, the images formed on the two retinas are
not identical. The brain combines the two images
into a single, three-dimensional perception of the
object. Thus the perception of depth is a particular
feature of binocular vision. Conversely, if only one
eye is viewing an object (monocular vision), the
image is perceived in a single dimension, with no
depth perception.
Cockpit Creates Monocular Visual Areas
The restricted visual field of the cockpit can
interfere with a pilot’s ability to detect target. In
a study that included nine subjects, each with
at least 20/20 corrected or uncorrected vision, a
viewing booth was designed to simulate a cockpit
windshield; and through this “wind-shield, “ a
binocular field 25 degrees high and 38 degrees
wide could be seen by the participants. Because of
the distance between the observers’ eyes, slightly
different fields were seen by the right and left
eyes. This created monocular visual borders-areas
at the extreme right and extreme left edges of
the visual field where an object in that area could
be seen only with one eye (the right and left eye,
2 0 1 0
The target was a dark disk with a diameter
of 1.2 meters against a white background screen
that had a uniform brightness contrast of nearly
80 percent. There were 45 possible target
positions varying from 0, 5, and 10 degrees above
and below the visual center; and 0, 5, 10 and 18
degrees left and right of center. The target at 18
degrees appeared within the monocular visual
Each observer was given a total of 50 timed
acquisitions trials. During each 12 second
trial, the target disk appeared in one of the 45
possible target positions in random order, and
there were five blank screens (trials in which no
disk appeared). A target that was not reported
within the 12 second search time was recorded
as a missed target.
All the missed targets in the binocular field of
vision (a total of 18 misses) had appeared along
the bottom of the visual field. There were fewer
missed targets (10 misses) in the monocular
field (along the extreme left and right sides of
the screen) than in the binocular field.
In other words, the presence of a visual
boundary can cause a pilot to concentrate the
search near the center of the binocular field, or
directly out the front window. The results further
suggested that if no target is detected, a pilot
scans the outer edges of the window structure
first because crossing traffic generally presents
the greatest potential threat; this scan is followed
by a search below the nose. The pilot tends to
scan in a relatively small area, which is one reason
that other aircraft remain undetected. Because
of the limitations of central vision, it is important
to search all sectors, especially those around the
J u l y
Aerospace Safety
edges of the cockpit. Aircraft maneuver in three
dimensions, so visual scanning above and below
the horizon is also important.
Effective Scanning Based on Sectors
To achieve the most effective coverage, the
NAMRL study recommended that scanning
be done by horizontal and vertical sectors.
Horizontal sectors should be 90 degree segments
of the horizon. Depending on the aircraft, these
segments may be more easily defined along the
lines of the aircraft structure, such as a wing line.
Vertical scanning should extend from 45
degrees above the horizon to the lower limit
of wing-level cockpit visibility. The pilot should
begin by scanning forward above the horizon and
move aft. Then, scanning should continue below
the horizon, moving forward. Depending on the
type of aircraft, scanning the extreme upper and
lower sectors may require a slight bank to look
around the wing.
Enhancing Visual Skills
While scanning techniques and suggestions
were designed to compensate for visual
limitations, there are also ways to enhance overall
visual skills. Some studies in U.S Air Force provide
clues as to how visual acquisition skills can be
As researchers discovered, pilots of high
performance aircraft are frequently unaware of
how the cockpit environment can be “visually
Aerospace Safety
J u l y
hostile” Dirty, scratched, or fogged windscreens
are annoyances with which pilots must routinely
contend. Windows should be cleaned before every
flight because seemingly benign marks on the
window can affect dramatically the pilot’s ability to
suppress saccadic eye movement, which prevents
the eyes from focusing on a distant object.
Pilots have failed to notice aircraft on collision
courses because they assumed “that little black
smudge on the window” was nothing more than
a bug splatter. Perhaps the most insidious visual
obstructions in the cockpit are those created
by the curved, laminated transparencies in the
windscreen itself. The symbology associated with
a heads-up display can further impair the search
area. As a result, a pilot may experience glare,
reflections, haze and optical distortion. These
factors can hinder a pilot’s ability to perceive
a target by reducing the level of contrast or by
producing overlapping and “phantom” (illusory)
discovered that test subjects were able to look
through such structured surfaces and detect
distant targets. After several trials, half of the
observers seemed to be able to ignore conflicting
peripheral stimuli and concentrate on the target.
Researchers believed that the subjects achieved
this by simply disregarding nearby obstructions,
while concentrating on target acquisition in the
far distance. The evidence suggested that ignoring
conflicting images (insect’s marks, scratches,
windshield frames) to concentrate on target
acquisition is a skill that can be developed.
2 0 10
In a related study, researchers found two
observers with the apparent ability to focus and
defocus on a target at will. The subjects were
slightly younger than the participants in the
earlier experiments, and each had a far acuity of
20/15 uncorrected. The target was a dark aircraft
silhouette viewed against a white background.
With minimal practice and no feedback during
the sessions, the observers were able to change
their accommodation nearly instantaneously.
Each subject claimed to have focused on specific
objects at various ranges to scan at that range.
Locate a sizable, distant object (e.g. a cloud
formation, mountain peak, prominent landmark,
building, or pier) that is within the range of the
anticipated target, and focus your eyes on it as you
begin each scan pattern.
During a scan in a clear and featureless (except
for possible targets) sky the top of the instrument
panel and the window posts can easily reduce
the ability to accommodate distant targets.
Learning to look through those structures makes
it possible to concentrate on collision avoidance
in the entire environment. Suggested practical
methods for using these techniques include the
following :
Vary distances to ensure a thorough scan and to
reduce visual fatigue.
Anticipate the target in the location and
ranges you are searching.
2 0 1 0
Refocus frequently on a distant point as you
begin each new scan.
Allow three to five seconds for your saccadic eye
movement to suppress before shifting your search
to the block of airspace around the object.
These focusing techniques offer a significantly
more effective visual-detection plan than simply
seeing and then avoiding an aircraft whose course
represents a threat. Using search-and-detect
techniques, the pilot takes a more active role in
collision avoidance, and the reward will be a greater
margin of safety.
- Adapted
J u l y
Aerospace Safety
Wg Cdr N Dhar
On a hot and dusty day somewhere
in the western sector...
t was close to pack up and the dry bulb
temperature was inching close to 40 degrees.
I picked up my briefcase and walked into the
flight commander’s office for regularising the
disappearing act. However, he asked me to carry
out an A&E check before I could head home.
Rather grouchily, I padded up and reached the
aircraft tech flight. The aircraft was ready and I
quickly signed the F-700. I wanted to get home
The external checks were over in a jiffy
and in no time I was at 13 km turning inbound
for the supersonic run. Now, this was a long day
and I thought I was a little tired because of the
hours at work. Soon I started feeling drowsy and
that was when the alarm bells rang. A quick
glance at the pilot oxygen gauge confirmed my
worst fears: the gauge was reading zero. Time of
useful consciousness (TUC) being at a premium,
I switched off reheat and went into a screaming
Aerospace Safety
J u l y
dive, operated emergency oxygen and levelled
off at a height of two kms. The rest was routine as
I called off the exercise and landed. I debriefed
the flight commander and covered the entire
incident in the briefing next morning.
2 0 10
An analysis of the whole situation brings
out certain mistakes and lessons. I had mentally
switched myself off by the time I walked for the
sortie. Sure, with my training I dragged myself
out of ‘pack-up’ mode but probably my alertness
was nowhere. The oxygen valve in the port
undercarriage bay was closed shut and during
externals when I checked it, I did so with very little
I padded up and reached the aircraft tech flight.
The aircraft was ready and I quickly signed the F-700.
I wanted to get home fast!
13 Km - yes , but once again saw no problem with the
oxygen gauge; I glanced at it but did not read it. Had
I noticed this, I would have investigated further and
the subsequent debacle would have been averted.
Lessons learnt:
When you do something, do it properly.
Remember there are no points for second place in
Always look out for mistakes others might make.
Same rule as in defensive driving! The technician
was supposed to ensure the oxygen valve open but
then that is what external checks are meant for; to
ensure that such slips are detected in time. Finally, it
is your life on the line.
Habit interference in the cockpit makes us look
but not see. I ‘looked’ at the pilot oxygen gauge but
did not ‘see’ that it read zero. This is how when our
attention is diverted, we hear but do not listen. It is
very important for us to be deliberate with checks
and procedures. NEVER let habits carry out your
checks in default setting.
force. It did not budge so I perceived it was open.
After getting in the cockpit and during preflight
checks I looked at the pilot oxygen gauge and yet
did not notice that it was reading zero. Did I really
carry out the HEFOLP checks during the climb to
2 0 1 0
Most importantly we must realise that in aviation
“Faux Pas” take place (despite multiple checks and
balances) because of “all holes in one line” concept.
Think of a ball as a “Faux Pas” and all checks and
balances as holes in a flat plate. All holes are at
different places on the flat plate. It is only when all
these holes are aligned that the ball rolls through.
So an aviation “Faux Pas” is the result of a series of
lapses. Reason enough for all of us to be alert at all
times and stick to checks and procedures like “warts
on the skin”.
- Wg Cdr N Dhar F(P).
J u l y
Aerospace Safety
Sqn Ldr Pallavi Pandey
Aerospace Safety
J u l y
2 0 10
On the day of the incident a relay which otherwise in DI
mode prevents the electrical supply to reach this cable had also
malfunctioned, leading to electrical supply within the naked
wire. Also, the oil change activity during the previous night
had left traces of oil on the engine bed; another contributing
factor to the fire.
“Sometimes when you tend to relax and feel
comfortable, that’s the time when accidents
I had heard many of my seniors tell this
repeatedly but never took it seriously until one
such thing happened to me.
“I had completed four years as STO in a
helicopter unit in the North-East and was posted
out. I was glad that I had not witnessed or been
part of any incident or accident till then in my
service career. It was my last working day in the
unit which had something in store for me for the
day. The phone rang at 0610hrs and a Sgt called
me stating that a helicopter had caught fire while
the technicians were carrying out DI on it.
I quickly changed and was at the DSS in no
time after informing the CEO and CO on the way.
The aircraft was a shocking site. The area near
the starboard side engine had tell tale signs of
the incident that had occurred. SFSIO, MSIO, CEO
and all other experienced officers of the fleet
gathered at the site in a few minutes.
A Court of Inquiry was ordered and all events
prior to the incident were being investigated. The
investigation revealed that the ac had returned
from an outstation commitment the previous
evening. Due to shortage of serveciable ac in
the unit it was planned for an early morning
commitment the next day. However, there was
an oil change activity that had to be completed
2 0 1 0
before the aircraft could proceed on the planned
commitment. Thus, this activity was planned in
the evening/early night hours in the hangar under
artificial lighting conditions.
The oil change was successfully completed
by 2000 h after a long tiring day. A ground run
followed by a leak check was planned to declare
the ac serveciable before seeing it off for the
commitment the next morning.
While carrying out the DI in the morning the
helicopter had caught fire. A deeper analysis of
the cause of the fire revealed that there was
an electrical cable which was constantly being
pressed by the engine cowling whenever the
cowling was opened or closed. This cable was in
the most inaccessible, rather remote recesses
under the starboard engine on the engine bed.
This constant pressure of the cowling had led to
insulation breakage over the naked wire. This
wire is not live in DI mode. However, on the day
of the incident a relay which otherwise in DI mode
prevents the electrical supply to reach this cable
had also malfunctioned, leading to electrical
supply within the naked wire. Also, the oil change
activity during the previous night had left traces of
oil on the engine bed; another contributing factor
to the fire. All these factors combined together
led to the oil soaked stokinette catching fire which
otherwise was a rare possibility and an unknown
story in the fleet.
- Sqn Ldr Pallavi Pandey AE(M).
J u l y
Aerospace Safety
Sqn Ldr SP Ghule
he importance of armament in the
context of our organisation cannot be
Armament provides
the cutting edge to an aircraft. At the same
time if not handled professionally, it can cause
catastrophic damage to the mother aircraft. In
one such incident, an aircraft deployed for a live
ORP mission was found to be fitted with a missile
whose Angle of Attack (AOA) vane had broken
and was stuck back on to the missile with the
help of adhesive. The Angle of Attack vane (AOA)
forms a critical link in the control system of the
missile. If launched, the failure of Angle of Attack
(AOA) vane will render the missile directionless
and pose a threat to the mother aircraft. One can
only wonder what would have happened, if the
missile had been launched.
Aerospace Safety
J u l y
What Happened
The incident took place while shifting of the
missile to one of the Danger Building (DB). In the
process of shifting, the Angle of Attack (AOA) vane
of the missile was damaged due to mishandling.
The tradesman were scared to report about the
incident and in an attempt to cover the fault, the
AOA vane was attached back to the missile without
paying attention to the serious consequences
it may have in the air. Subsequently, the base
was tasked to mount ORP with aircraft in AD (Air
Defence) configuration. As luck would have it,
this defective missile was positioned by the base
armament flight at the ORP and was loaded on
the aircraft by the weapon fitters. The ORP was
manned with the subject defective missile for
2 0 10
almost a week. The matter was highlighted after a HEVOLREP
was raised by one of the air warriors.
How it happened
The armament flight at any base is responsible for receipt,
transportation, storage and dispatch of all the armament
stores pertaining to that base. During the transportation of
the missile to the Danger Building the Angle of Attack (AOA)
vane was damaged due to mishandling.
Why it Happened
A number of factors contributed to the incident.
Firstly, non MTD tradesmen (Wpn fitter)
were used for handling/ driving the fork
lifter (Specialist vehicle). Secondly, the
young tradesman and NC(E)/Casual
labour handling the missile took
the task lightly and there was little
or no supervision. The fear of a CoI
(Court of Inquiry) and consequent
disciplinary action forced them
to not report the matter. The
technicians did not understand
the serious consequences it might
have in air.
To err is human and one must appreciate
that the Indian Air Force as an organisation
realizes this fact. We are in the process of
implementing AFSEM (Air Force System
of Error Management), wherein we will
discriminate between genuine errors and
willful violations. The associated repercussions
will be different in each case. The idea is to
identify the shortcomings in the system that
forces an individual to commit errors. Each
accident or incident is taken as a window of
opportunity to look deeper in the system to
identify pathogens that are waiting for right
conditions to manifest themselves in terms
of mishaps. Towards this, it should be our
endeavour to report even the smallest of
the occurrences that may hamper aviation
safety. All the air warriors must be educated
and encouraged to report any problem that
they are facing rather that live with it. The
practice of SDL (Service Driving Licence)
holders driving the specialist vehicles should
be discouraged at all levels. Following these
little tips we can contribute positively to flight
and armament safety.
- Sqn Ldr SP Ghule AE(M).
Problem Areas
Besides poor supervision, the point
that stands out is the willful suppression
of the fact due to the fear of disciplinary
action and wrong practice of employing non
MTD tradesman (Wpn fitters) for driving of specialist
vehicles. If we go little deeper into the problem, we will
realise that in most of our bases the armament flight does not
have any MTD for handling specialist vehicles like fork lifters,
tractors etc. As a result, weapon fitter with or without Service
Driving Licence (SDL) are utilized for this purpose and this
fact is overlooked by all. It is incorrect to assume that any air
warrior with a SDL can drive any vehicle. In some squadrons
the SDL holders are blindly authorized for driving vehicles
like Air Chargers, tractors etc until a incident/accident takes
place. In some cases these incidents/accidents are not
2 0 1 0
He didn’t bother with the
“Amendments to Pilot’s Notes”
J u l y
Aerospace Safety
Wg Cdr P Pant
ir Warriors posted to the strength of a
squadron have a strong bonding amongst
themselves. Be it the air warrior himself
or his/her family, all are attached to the squadron
in some way or the other. Amongst the officers,
whether he/she is an aircrew, technical officer or
a doctor, each one is closely associated with the
squadron activities. This close bonding helps in
building up a healthy relationship among the
squadron crowd. Though, as far as the working
environment and the work place is concerned, all
Aerospace Safety
J u l y
the air warriors posted in a squadron are by and
large working and interacting every day.
The squadron doctor is the only person who
works at the station medical centre which is usually
away from the squadron. Despite being away
from the squadron work environment, the doc
has a very major role to play as far as the health of
the air warrior and their families is concerned. It
is not only the health of the squadron personnel
which is important but the health of their families
2 0 10
as well. It is just as important, because if the health
problems of the families are dealt appropriately,
then automatically the air warriors would give
their best output, on work assigned to them.
I recall an incident, which was once
mentioned by one of the senior doctor’s amongst
us when he was posted to a squadron as a doc.
One day in the wee hours of the morning, he
received a call from one squadron pilot that his
son, aged three years, had developed high fever.
The doctor knew that the pilot was to leave early
in the morning for a two week detachment.
Before the squadron doctor could say a word,
the pilot himself showed his faith in the doctor
by announcing that ‘though I am leaving for a
detachment yet I am not worried about my son’s
illness because you are there to take care of him’.
Such a statement itself reflects how much faith
and what relationship existed among us. This can
only come if there is a strong bonding between
the squadron personnel, irrespective of branch or
The squadron doctor is generally considered a
friend. This is because, many health related queries
are discussed and clarified albeit informally. In our
day to day lives, we continue to face minor health
related problems. If these medical problems are
not addressed at an appropriate time, they may
lead to bigger problems which may result into
serious manifestations and take longer than
required time in getting cured.
Such a situation,especially in aircrew,would be
encountered only when they are not open to the
squadron doc or for that matter any doctor who
is posted or attached. The squadron doctor has a
close interaction with the families as well. This is
due to regular interaction with the families both
at SMC/MI Room as well as during social functions
and personal interaction during informal visits
at homes. Such an interaction actually helps in
2 0 1 0
handling difficult situations concerned with the
health as well with the performance of the pilot
in his career.
There have been various instances in the past,
where the apprehension of being downgraded
due to some ailment has resulted in self medication
which later had caused unavoidable aggravations.
Such a situation would only arise when there is
a feeling of distrust amongst personnel. Here, I
would like to emphasise that being a doctor; our
primary aim is to help the individual overcome
his problem to the best of our ability. As a doctor,
it is always our endeavour to help any individual
get back to his primary duty, as early as possible.
In the case of an aircrew, it is to clear him for flying
duties as early as possible. At the same time, we
also have to ensure that it does not compromise
aviation safety in terms of either aircrew or aircraft
safety. So, any actions initiated depends entirely
on the situation keeping in mind avaition safety
issues as well as the interest of the organisation
and the health of the aircrew.
A squadron doctor will always give the best
of his/her advise because he/she is looking
at any situation as a neutral person. More
importantly, being so close and maintaining such
a close relationship with the air warriors and their
families, the squadron doctor will always think
and advice giving it a personal touch and not
merely in terms of a doctor-patient relationship’.
In broader terms, the role of a squadron doctor
can be compared with that of a family physician,
a concept which was very popular in the past. It
is advantageous because many health problems
that can aggravate mental stress of a person are
tackled at a personal level itself by the doctor. So
the concept of a squadron doctor is definitely of
great help in building up a team of healthy air
warriors and their families.
- Wg Cdr P Pant (Med).
J u l y
Aerospace Safety
FIt Lt SD Chavala
Aerospace Safety
J u l y
2 0 10
The following day, I went on liber ty and spent the whole day
with my family. My parents were due to catch a flight out of
town on monday morning. The same morning, I was scheduled
for my PN (Pilot Navigation) solo check. I had prepared my
map meticulously and marked both repor ting points, making
a neat triangle with all necessar y information.
was undergoing my basic flying training at
Air Force Academy(AFA) in 2002. The training
schedule was very tiring and stressful. We
hardly got time during weekdays. The weekends
were another story altogether. I belong to
Hyderabad and AFA was like a home posting
for me, especially after the National Defence
Academy! We were almost halfway through the
course and I was getting comfortable in the HPT
cockpit. I had done well in all my check sorties.
I guess, I was not giving my instructor much
trouble. It all changed one monday.
My parents had visited me at AFA on a
saturday along with my grandparents. I showed
them the trainees mess and enjoyed some home
cooked food along with a few of my friends. The
following day, I went on liberty and spent the
whole day with my family. My parents were due
to catch a flight out of town on monday morning.
The same morning, I was scheduled for my pilot
navigation (PN) solo check. I had prepared my
map meticulously and marked both reporting
points, making a neat triangle with all the
necessary information. Then I proceeded to fold
the map neatly into a triangle (or ‘Samosa’ as we
lovingly called them). I had made two copies, one
for me and one for the examiner.
I went through the pre-flight briefing with
the examiner and walked to the aircraft with him.
We got airborne and carried out the navigation
2 0 1 0
uneventfully. The examiner even gave me some
tests to judge my navigation prowess. Once we
landed back, the examiner told me that I had
cleared my solo check. I guess he was satisfied
with my performance.
I was fourth in the queue for takeoff, after
three other course mates who had cleared their
solo checks as well. I was given an altitude of 1.2
Km for my route, as my other course mates were
stacked at 1.8, 1.6, and 1.4 Km. After leaving circuit,
I calculated my Estimated Time of Arrivals (ETA’s)
and passed them to the AFA radar. I reported at the
first waypoint on time, and turned right towards
the second way point. I re-calculated the ETsA
and noted the difference. The difference was not
more than two minutes, so I did not have to report
them to radar. The second leg was a long one, so I
started thinking about my parents and their flight
from Hyderabad around the same time as then.
Suddenly, I heard a course mate of mine passing
his ETsA, and though he had taken off before me,
his ETA was a good minute behind mine for the
second reporting point. As all of us were flying the
same route, I got worried that I had probably made
some mistake with my calculation, and started recalculating the ETAs. While I was re-calculating
my ETAs, the second way point came in view.
After reaching overhead, I checked my time and
found that I had been correct in my assessment. I
continued with the turn and reported my position
over the second point to base Radar.
J u l y
Aerospace Safety
by glowing carbon and asbestos particles carried
by the exhaust gases.
What Happened?
On 24 Dec 96, a Flt Lt, Fg Offr and a Sqn
Ldr were authorised to fly a cross country flight
from Hyderabad to Tambaram in a Avro. The task
was to airlift the Air Force band along with their
equipment from Tambaram to Hyderabad.
aircraft departed Tambaram for
Hyderabad at 1447 hrs with a total of 22 persons
on board. It reported its position over BODEL
at Flight level 140 at 1531hrs. Thereafter at
approximately 1533hrs it reported single engine
failure and requested for a descent to FL 125 which
was cleared by Madras control. Subsequently, it
lost radio contact and crashed.
How and Why it Happened?
Cracks had developed on the starboard
jet pipe manifold which progressed due to
flying and uneven stresses on the retaining
plates due to disengagement of RH jet pipe
swing link. Consequently uneven loading of
the retaining plates had led to retaining plates
bending rearwards and the jet pipe dislodging
from the retaining plates. This probably had
led to exhaust gas leakage and burning of the
fuel soaked asbestos seals inside the joint strap
sealing the junction of the jet pipe manifold and
the jet pipe.
With the seals burning, exhaust gases at a
temperature of 500-600 deg C could have begun
to leak into the starboard undercarriage bay.
Excessive rise in temperature and impinging
exhaust gases would have heated and ultimately
ignited the oil smeared insulating material of the
flexible LP fuel pipe located in the forward section
of the starboard undercarriage bay just below the
joint strap. The ignition may have been initiated
Aerospace Safety
J u l y
This could have resulted in excessive heating
of the fuel flowing through the LP line. Burning
of the flexible hose pipe would have ignited the
fuel flowing through it at 6-9 psi under booster
pump pressure. Consequently disruption in fuel
supply probably caused a fluctuation in TGT as
noticed by the co-pilot. Subsequently, the engine
auto feathered, due to drop in engine torque on
account of fuel starvation.
The crew was oblivious of the fire in the
wheel bay as no fire warning was available in
zone-III. The Captain delayed the engine auto
feather emergency drill and as the fuel LP cock
remained open, fuel continued to feed the fire
in the undercarriage bay. Verbal warning of fire
received from the navigator was not monitored by
the Captain and co-pilot who were preoccupied
with radio communication with Madras control.
The starboard wing main spar melted and
twisted due to aerodynamic load. Consequent
increase in lift on the starboard wing caused a roll
to the left. This confused the Captain about the
side on which the engine was feathered, as with
the starboard engine off and propeller feathered,
he normally expected a tendency to roll to the
The starboard wing continued to twist
and reached the stalling angle. The Captain
experienced a stall warning in the cockpit,
resulting in further confusion. This distracted
the Captain and further delayed the actions for
Large twist of the wing had damaged the
FRP coupling on aluminium fuel pipe lines
2 0 10
from inboard fuel tank to collector tank,
leading to fuel leak in the space between the
undercarriage bay and the fuel tank. Fire thus
travelled to this area and very rapidly spread
along the fuel tank up to the wing tip.
The torsion box weakened and the engine
drooped as observed by the co-pilot and
possibly began to separate. In the next instant
there was an explosion on the starboard
wing and the aircraft went out of the control
probably into a spin or spiral to the right as
evident by desperate calls for more rudder.
The aircraft disintegrated at this point or soon
after with the starboard wing and engine
separating at the attachments around the
undercarriage bay.
Human Factors Analysis and classification
Unsafe Acts/ Errors
Decision Making Errors/ Necessary Actions
The Captain delayed the
completion of subsequent actions after the
engine auto feathered. Closing the LP cock in
time may have arrested the fire.
Skill Based Error/ Checklist Error
Subsequent actions with checklist were
not carried out using challenge and response
method, after the engine had feathered.
The navigator did not repeat the warning
to ensure that the Captain was actually aware
of the fire that was present.
Preconditions for Unsafe Acts
Cognitive Factors/ Channelised Attention
The Captain was preoccupied with the stall
warning and the co-pilot with radio communication
and therefore failed to monitor the verbal warning of
fire given by the navigator.
Crew Resource Management The Captain did not
delegate tasks to other crew members, showing lack
of CRM on his part. It was also observed that there was
absence of standard terminologies used by the crew
while communicating with each other which might
have caused miscommunication.
Leadership/Supervision/Oversight Inadequate
No action was taken by the BRD when a similar crack
was reported in an Avro. Non compliance to Mod 1417
on the aircraft. Due to shortfalls in third line servicing,
the cracks in the jet pipe manifold were not detected
in time.
Local Training Programs
The conversion policy
for re-streamed pilots (captain in this case) did not
cover CRM aspect of training. He had not flown any con
training for the last four months. Also, the navigator
even though a A2 CNI had not flown any con trg sortie
for the past six months and had just upgraded from a
low medical category.
Zone III of the engine nacelle did not
have a fire detection and warning system.
2 0 1 0
J u l y
Aerospace Safety
N 12 Jan 10, Sqn Ldr Ashutosh (26195-L) Adm/ ATC was the DATCO assisted by his
Ops Clk, 734946-L Sgt R Rajkamal AFSO. A Jaguar was rejoining from sector for a
descending circuit. At this stage, the GCA controller informed the DATCO of a possible
emergency, though the pilot had not declared any. On enquiry, the pilot clarified that
he had switched off his second engine due to a fire warning light and was coming for
a direct landing. Since there was no SFS in the ATC, the Ops Clk coordinated for an
experienced aircrew to man RT from the DSS and the DATCO liaisoned for an ACP. The
crippled aircraft was safely recovered and switched off on the runway. Thereafter, they
executed prompt action for runway clearance and restoration of facilities as three
ferry aircraft were airborne for the base.
Sqn Ldr Ashutosh and Sgt R Rajkamal demonstrated a high degree of
professionalism and situational awareness in responding to a grave situation.
Good Show Sqn Ldr Ashutosh &Sgt R Rajkamal
(TP Singh)
Air Cmde
N 12 Jan 10, Flt Lt KN Sajith (28044-L) Adm/ATC was on GCA watch. A Jaguar
was rejoining from sector for a descending circuit. Even though no emergency
was declared, he sensed something unusual from the pilot’s RT and advised the
DATCO to reconfirm. On enquiry, the pilot clarified that he had switched off his
second engine due to fire warning indications in the cockpit and requested for a
priority landing. Flt Lt KN Sajith provided critical advice and support to the aircraft
and advised the pilot for a single engine GCA. The aircraft was subsequently safely
Flt Lt KN Sajith demonstrated keen observation and a high degree of situational
Good Show Flt Lt Sajith
(TP Singh)
Air Cmde
Aerospace Safety
J u l y
2 0 10
N 17 Nov 09, 769240-G Sgt RA Perachi Eng Fit was detailed for scheduled
servicing on a MiG-29 trainer which included endoscopic checks on Burner
22 the
Oct 09,
776503-L Sgt
Vipin Kumar
Flt Gun
was detailed
for acheck
live rocket
at range
No-5 of
out this
on the
engine he observed a few black spots near the burner. Additional checks on
flame secondary baffles revealed rupture and tear on the flame tube, which was
He immediately informed the pilot and checked the same. Further investigation revealed that
permissible limit. Had it gone unnoticed it would have had a detrimental
some of the other rocket fuses had also come loose. The rockets were offloaded, tightened and
in further
its failure.
help ofresulting
an armament
range. Had this
gone unnoticed it
could have resulted in a potential accident/incident.
Sgt RA Perachi displayed keen sense of observation and a high degree of
Sgt Vipin Kumar
high degree of professionalism to averted a
a possible
potential incident.
(TP Singh)
Air Cmde
On 24 Nov 09, 912428-G LAC Vinod Bhatt Air Frame Fitter was detailed for 200 Hrs servicing on
a MiG-29 aircraft. During canopy mechanical indicator pin check, he noticed that the canopy
N 30 Sep 09, 913515-G LAC PS Jatav Prop Fit was detailed for Ch-A inspection on the engine
lifting cylinder movement was abnormal. He also observed a crack near the canopy actuating
installation of an Avro. While inspecting the starboard engine, he found a crack on the inner
cylinder bracket. This check was not included in the day’s activity and the location of the
cone. This was detected when LAC Jatav crawled 15 ft inside the jet pipe. Had this crack gone
crack was difficult to observe. Had this crack on the bracket gone unnoticed, it would have
unnoticed, the inner cone of the exhaust unit could have caused a major aircraft accident.
aggravated and resulted in non-positive locking of the canopy.
LAC PS Jatav, despite his limited experience displayed professionalism to avert a possible
aircraft accident.
LAC Vinod Bhatt displayed keen observation and a high degree of professionalism and
averted a possible incident.
(TP Singh)
Air Cmde
2 0 1 0
J u l y
Aerospace Safety
N 10 and 11 Nov 09, in the aftermath of Cyclone ‘Phyan’, Air Force Station Pune
witnessed unprecedented heavy rains, visibility as low as 800 m, strong surface
winds and low clouds. The weather conditions precluded any fighter flying however,
civil scheduled operations continued. In the absence of ILS, the civil aircraft were
provided precision radar approaches and barring two aircraft that had to divert as
the weather fell below their minima, all civil aircraft safely operated from Pune on
these days, with the least possible delay.
This achievement is attributed to the meticulous and professional handling of
the situation by Pune ATC.
Well Done Pune ATC Team
(TP Singh)
Air Cmde
N 17 Oct 09, Flt Cdt Vijay Tiwari (175281-F) of Stage –I training was detailed for
his fifth syllabus sortie. The trainee was tasked by an instructor to carry out
independent external checks. During the external checks he noticed two minute
drops of hydraulic oil on the sense aerial of the aircraft which had gone unnoticed
by the ground crew as well. Subsequently, on checking the plenum chamber it was
found that there was a leak from a connection to the hydraulic pump.
Flt Cdt Vijay Tiwari displayed good observation and alertness despite his limited
experience and averted a hazardous situation.
Well Done Flt Cdt Vijay Tiwari
(TP Singh)
Air Cmde
Aerospace Safety
J u l y
2 0 10
N 31 Aug 09, 768413-G, Sgt G Singh AF/Fit was detailed for out of phase servicing
(OOPS) on MiG-21. While carrying out checks, he noticed soot marks in the
28 Oct
07, 913486-L
LAC Anilover
Koli PropofFitter
detailed toSubsequent
perform TRS on
a SuRF region
30 MKI. During TRS, the airwarrior noticed an oil leak from the fuel vent. He immediately
revealed possible gas leakage from the fuel system that led to the removal of RF for
informed the desk in-charge and further investigation revealed that the seal of the flexible shaft
bearing assembly
in the engine accessory gear box (EAGB) had completely worn out.
LAC Anil
Kumar displayed
Koli despite ahishigh
displayed a keen sense
G Singh
of professionalism
and of
which helped
in averting a hazardous situation.
Well Done Sgt G Singh
Well Done LAC Anil Kumar Koli
(TP Singh)
Air Cmde
N 07 Jan 10, 913046-B LAC Mukund Ranjan Airframe Fitter was detailed to
Flight LAC
N 08 Oct 09,
Ashish (LFS)
Kumar on
fit was
for ‘Out
of phase’
servicing on the compressor shim of an Avro. During checks, he observed a small metal
not easily
it would have
to a
piece in and
the engine
cowling of the
further investigations,
it was
that the compressor
situation shim
in air.between intermediate and rear compressor casing was broken at
three places at 10 ‘O’ clock position. The breakage of the shim could have caused hot gas
leakage from the compressor on the adjacent fuel manifold and water methanol pipeline. Had
LAC Mukund Ranjan despite his limited experience, displayed keen observation
this gone unnoticed, it could have resulted in an engine fire in the air.
and averted an accident.
LAC Ashish Kumar Roy despite his limited experience displayed keen observation and a
high degree of professionalism which averted a potential accident.
Well Done LAC Mukund Ranjan
Well Done LAC Ashish Kumar Roy
(TP Singh)
Air Cmde
2 0 1 0
J u l y
Aerospace Safety
A novice monk was walking by the riverbank when he saw three monks
sitting and meditating. He too, sat beside them, closed his eyes and started
meditating. A little later, the first monk got up and walked to the river. He folded
his hands in prayer before the river and walked on the water. He walked across
to the other side and after a short while, walked back the same way. A little later,
the second and then the third monk did the same. The apprentice monk was
impressed. He too, walked to the flowing river and folded his hands in prayer. He
too attempted to walk across the river but was washed away.
The three monks looked at each other and murmured softly, “Maybe we
should have told him the location of the submerged stepping stones!”
Lessons learnt
In flying do not imitate others blindly.
Have good knowledge of the area/aircraft
you are flying in.
Maj Rajat Kumar
12(1) R&O Fit
Army Aviation
Aerospace Safety
J u l y
2 0 10