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IAF, Pilatus likely to ink Rs 1850-crore deal for trainers

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Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne addresses a press conference in New Delhi on Monday. A PTI photo.

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Indian Air Force (IAF) has said it was expecting to sign a Rs 1850-crore deal with Swiss firm Pilatus by the end of this month to procure basic trainer aircraft for its rookie pilots.

"Pilatus-7 aircraft is in the final stages of procurement and the case is with the Finance Ministry. I think by the end of this month, the contract for this trainer aircraft would be signed," IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne said at the annual Air Force Day press conference here.

Observing that pilot training has been an area of concern for the IAF, he said, "In the last few months, this has been the area of main focus for us. If we sign the contract by the end of this month, the Pilatus basic trainer would join the IAF by July 2013."

Replying to a query on such training in absence of basic trainers, Browne said, "We have introduced changes in the syllabus. By 2013-14, when we would get the additional Hawks and the Pilatus as well, we would be able to fulfil all the key requirements for training of our pilots."

He said the gap in the basic flying training of pilots occurred because of the grounding of HPT-32 aircraft in 2009.

"HPT-32 aircraft joined the IAF as basic trainer in 1988. But these were grounded in 2009 after a series of engine problems. So far, we have noticed at least 108 problems in the engine of this aircraft," he said.

A series of accidents involving HPT-32 further dented the confidence of young pilots affecting their training, Browne said.

"We had 23 pilot fatalities. So there came a time in 2009, when the required confidence level of our pilots was lost," he said.


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