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Sea Harrier crashes, pilot safe

india Updated: Dec 25, 2007 10:18 IST
Jatin Gandhi
Jatin Gandhi
Hindustan Times
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Another Sea Harrier of the Indian Navy crashed at Dabolim Air Station in Goa on Monday morning while it was attempting a vertical landing.

The pilot of the aircraft, Cdr Janak Bevli ejected to safety, an Indian Navy officer said.

The crash took place at 11.15 am when the pilot returning from a “routine sortie” was landing, the officer said.

“There has been no loss of any other property or person in the accident. A Board of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause,” the officer said. Sources said that the pilot, Cdr Bevli, is among the most experienced fliers of the aircraft that the navy has. “He was attempting a vertical landing,” an official, who did not wish to be named, revealed.

With Monday’s crash, the total number of Sea Harriers with the navy has come down to 13. Since 1983, seven pilots have died in 17 crashes involving the Sea Harrier. India inducted a fleet of 30 Sea Harriers in 1983, using 25 of these for operational flying and the remaining to train pilots. More than half of the fleet is now gone, lost mostly to routine sorties.

In about the last one year, this is the fourth accident involving a Sea Harrier. The last crash involved another Sea Harrier that went down while trying to land on the Naval carrier INS Viraat during the Malabar naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal.

Another fighter had plunged into the sea in Goa after it took off, killing the pilot. Sea Harrier pilots are considered the cream of naval fliers.