Two Indian Navy pilots and a civilian were killed on Wednesday when a trainer aircraft crashed into a residential building while performing a stunt on the opening day of the Hyderabad Air Show.
The aircraft, a HAL-built Kiran jet trainer, belonged to the Indian Navy’s Sagar Pawan flight demonstration team that had flown down from the Dabolim naval air station in Goa to add glamour to the show.
The crash took place at around 11.50 am, 10 minutes after the Sagar Pawan team carried out its signature four-plane diamond formation. The Navy has ordered an inquiry.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Praful Patel, US ambassador to India Tim Roemer and several other dignitaries were being shown around the stalls when the jet trainer crashed.
The stunt plane, one of four in the Navy’s aerobatic team, could not climb out of a steep dive and ploughed into the building, bringing to an end the Sagar Pawan’s zero-crash record since it was formed in 2003.
Hyderabad Police Commissioner A.K. Khan said the plane hit a telephone tower atop the building before it went down.
The pilots, Commander S.K. Maurya and Lieutenant Commander Rahul Nair, tried till the end to prevent the crash.
“The pilots didn’t eject. Either there was a timing problem or they were trying to minimise damage to civilian areas,” Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma said in Bhopal.
But the police said an unopened parachute was found at the accident site, indicating that one of the pilots might have tried to eject. Sources in the Navy said both the pilots were married and Nair left behind a five-year-old son.
Police said at least seven residents of the building were injured as the low-flying aircraft plunged into the three-storied building, about 4 km from Begumpet airport.
A car parked outside the building was flattened as a portion of the damaged building fell on it. The police and military personnel evacuated the injured and got them admitted to Military Hospital in Secunderabad.
(with inputs from Bhopal)