New Delhi: India’s aviation regulator has decided to review permissions for aeronautical displays near residential areas after a crash on Wednesday led to three deaths in Hyderabad.
“There are various views on this and one of them is that the display should not be held close to residential areas as the risk factor in such exercises is higher than normal,” said a senior official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on condition of anonymity. “We are going to look into it.”
Fatal show: Indian Navy planes at the air show on Wednesday. DGCA will help the navy probe the crash that caused three deaths. Mahesh Mumar / AP
Two navy pilots were killed when their Surya Kiran MkII aircraft, part of an aerobatics team, crashed into a building in the Bowenpally locality, close to the old Begumpet airport in Andhra Pradesh’s capital city, on the inaugural day of the India Aviation 2010 exhibition. A civilian also died.
The airport is used only for non-scheduled flights, after it was closed for other flights in 2008 as a new facility opened.
DGCA has already withdrawn permission for a display meant to showcase India’s growing prowess as a civilian passenger market and an aerospace hub—scheduled for the last two days of the exhibition.
The official said DGCA would help the navy investigate the crash.
An analyst said the aerobatics should not have been allowed.
“You are not allowed this low-level aerobatics near built-up areas. The Begumpet airport is most unsuitable for this. It’s too crowded,” said Mohan Ranganathan, a Chennai-based air safety consultant with more than 20,000 hours of flying experience.
“They cannot have aerobatic displays inside the city,” he added.
Ranganathan said the risk of a crash is higher in airshows as pilots have to demonstrate their skills in a smaller corridor than usual to ensure these are visible to the audience.
“Usually they do it in what are called test flying areas, but in airshows they do it at a much lower altitude than they do in a test flight,” he said. “The zone where they do these flight demonstrations also gets confined to half or one kilometre in front of the viewers gallery.”