New Delhi: The AN-32 plane of Indian Air Force that crashed in Arunachal Pradesh killing all 13 personnel on board was completely airworthy, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh informed Rajya Sabha on Monday.
He also said that the accident rate per 10,000 flying hours in the Air Force has come down from 1.04 in 1999 to 0.33 currently.
Replying to supplementaries during the Question Hour, he termed the accident as unfortunate but made it clear that there was no problem with the airworthiness of the aircraft.
He informed the House that a total of 13 people lost their lives in the AN-32 plane crash. The mortal remains of all have been recovered and sent to their families.
"I want to assure the House that our AN-32 fleet is airworthy and there was no problem. But this incident happened, which is very unfortunate," he told the house.
"The average accident rate has reduced from 1.04 per 10,000 flying hours in 1999 to 0.52 in 2004. This has further reduced to 0.46 in the next five years and currently the accident rate is 0.33 per 10,000 flying hours," he said.
The Defence Minister said a court of inquiry had been ordered within hours of the incident, and only after the report is submitted, the reasons for the accident will be ascertained.
"As far as planes are concerned, particularly AN-32 planes, so far 52 have been upgraded, but we cannot say that those planes which have not been upgraded yet are not airworthy. It would not be fair to assume so," he said.
Singh said he will inform the House once he gets information on previous court of inquiries and the shortcomings pointed out by them.
"If there was no improvement, the rate of accidents per 10,000 flying hours would not have come down. There must have been many improvements brought about," he said, while replying to a question on whether any steps have been taken to prevent air accidents.
He told the House that the upgradation of aircraft is a regular process and told a member that the MIG-29s would also come under it.
"The wreckage of AN-32 aircraft which went missing was located on 11.06.2019 in a place 16 km north of Lipo village in Arunachal Pradesh. All 13 personnel on board sustained fatal injuries. Every aircraft accident is analysed through a Court/Board of Inquiry and remedial measures are undertaken accordingly," the Minister said in his written reply.
To another question, the Defence minister informed the House that a total of 6,900 war widows have been provided training so far.
A suggestion to call war widows as 'Shaheed Patni' was also given by BJP member Vinay Sahasrebuddhe.
Singh also said that the OROP demand of ex-servicemen was there for 40 years and the previous NDA government implemented it within a year of coming to power.
Of the 105 AN-32 aircraft planned for upgradation, work on 55 aircraft has been completed, the government said, adding no transporter jet is fitted with "obsolete" and "outdated" emergency locator transmitters.
In a written response to a question in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik said equipment fitted on AN-32 aircraft are functional and serviceable on all aircraft that are flying.
He also said all transport aircraft in the Indian Air Force (IAF) cleared for flying are fully airworthy.
"Out of 105 AN-32 aircraft planned for upgradation, 55 aircraft have been upgraded - 40 aircraft at Kiev, Ukraine and 15 aircraft at 1 BRD, Kanpur. Upgradation of the remaining aircraft is planned in a phased manner depending upon the supply of mod kits by Ukraine," Naik said.
"No aircraft is fitted with obsolete and outdated Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)," the minister added.