Goa: MiG-29K skids, catches fire, runway shut
The Airports Authority of India director for Goa airport said the runway would be closed at least for an hour.Updated: Jan 03, 2018 18:12 IST
An Indian Navy MiG-29K fighter jet veered off the runway and caught fire while the pilot was attempting to take off from the Goa airport. The pilot, a trainee, egressed safely, the navy said.
Wednesday’s crash is the first accident involving the MiG-29K fighter jet. The navy’s first MiG-29K squadron with 16 fighters was raised in Goa in May 2013.
Fire tenders were rushed to the spot to douse the fire. It was critical to put out the aircraft fire at the earliest as it was loaded with 6.5 tonnes of fuel, a source said.
“The pilot aborted take-off during a training sortie. During deceleration, the aircraft veered off the end of runway and caught fire,” navy spokesperson Captain DK Sharma said. “The pilot jettisoned the canopy and egressed the aircraft safely,” he added.
The pilot did not use his ejector seat and chose to manually discard the canopy to exit the burning jet.
The Russian-origin fighter planes operate from the deck of India’s only aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya. The navy also plans to deploy these fighters on the indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC), Vikrant, being built at the state-owned Cochin Shipyard.
The mishap disrupted operations at the airport located inside naval base INS Hansa, delaying several flights.
The navy has ordered a probe to determine the cause of the accident.
The Comptroller and Auditor General came out with a damning report on the MiG-29K fleet in July 2016, revealing that the planes had engine and airframe problems, deficiencies in the fly-by-wire system and often required maintenance.
The CAG report said the availability of the single-seat MiG-29K for missions ranged from an unimpressive 15.93% to 37.63 % while that of the twin-seat trainer MiG-29KUB hovered between 21.3% and 47.14%.
The fighter planes were part of the $2.3 billion Gorshkov (renamed Vikramaditya) deal, covering the refit of the carrier, six Kamov-31 helicopters, cost of training pilots, simulators and spares. India also placed a follow-on order for 29 more MiG-29K fighters worth $1.2 billion. The Russians have executed the second order too.
The navy has created an aircraft carrier setting on the ground in Goa to operate these fighters, which use the ski jump to take off and are recovered by arrestor wires on a carrier or STOBAR (short takeoff but arrested recovery) in navy parlance. Ukraine is the only other country in the world that has a shore-based test facility.