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Computer failure or HAL’s botched upgrade — what Mirage 2000 crash probe is looking at

Court of Inquiry is still in process of pin-pointing exact cause of crash that killed 2 pilots. Difference of opinion among team members and stakeholders.

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New Delhi: The probe into the fatal 1 February Mirage 2000 crash in Bengaluru is focusing on the possibility of either a computer failure or a botched upgrade by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd having led to the incident.

Two Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots testing the upgraded Mirage 2000, Squadron Leader Samir Abrol and Squadron Leader Siddhartha Negi, were killed in the crash at the HAL airport in the Karnataka capital.

Top sources in the defence establishment said the court of inquiry (CoI), headed by an Air Commodore who is an experienced Mirage 2000 pilot and a former Air Attache in France, is still in the process of pin-pointing the exact cause of the crash.

There is difference of opinion among the team members and the stakeholders, said the sources.

Computer failure or unfitted screws?

Sources said French aeronautics firm Safran made computer controls for the aircraft and it is suspected that the pitch rate gyrometers — the sensors that calculate the aircraft’s altitude — sent a wrong input.

Fighters like the Mirage 2000 are programmed to accept commands from the flight computer to keep the aircraft stable. Flight computers also play a role in release of the missiles or bombs on board in conflict.

“The CoI is now looking at what caused this wrong input. Was it a software problem or was it because three out of the four necessary screws on the sensors were not fitted,” a source in know of the CoI proceedings said.

HAL is carrying out an upgrade of the Mirage 2000 fighters, manufactured by the French firm Dassault.

Sources said the French firm had sought the sensors to be handed over for analysis but HAL refused to do so.

Arrester barrier failure

ThePrint had reported on 20 March that the CoI found that the crash was caused by an “uninitiated control input” — or a software glitch — during the jet’s user acceptance trial.

It established that the aircraft was about five metres from the ground, its nose pitched sharply down when the fully loaded fighter jet hit the runway on its main wheels and tail.

The CoI also ruled out any human error and found that the arrester barrier at the runway failed, eventually leading to the death of the two pilots.

The arrester barrier is a net with two hydraulic jacks that is installed at the end of runways to ensure an aircraft does not overshoot it.

The IAF continues to fly the upgraded Mirage aircraft despite the CoI looking into a possible software glitch.


Also read: Half of IAF’s transport & fighter aircraft fleet are outdated. AN-32 accident was just a reminder


 

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Poor quality of indian hardware and technology keep us losing bright young minds, if iaf keeps flying coffins nothing can help but shall downgrade iaf with shortage of good pilots.

  2. If it is software issue then hal is ruled out.

    If it is sensor issue then hal is ruled out except the fitting issue.

    Also, very irresponsible to say 3 or 4 screws were missing. I doubt any aircraft manufacturing is so shady.!

    Seems like it is sensor issue and either the installation process is so complicated and failure prone (like MAX) or the sensor itself is the issue. Both points to French company and not hal.!

  3. Did you in media check whether the installation of that sensor was the same as in previous successful test flights

  4. HAL: Who? Said the wise old owl? Whoooo shot the Mirage 2000 down? How cana computer glitch on an HAL refurbished obsolete aricraft not be HAL’s fault?

  5. Have a thought about PBORs, they can only purchase vehicle of 6 lakhs rupees.Why this differntiation between Officers’ and Jawans.

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