India has decided to ground its fleet of over 200 Su-30 aircraft, following a crash in Pune last week, until an investigation into the problem of automatically ejecting pilot seats has been concluded.
In 2013, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) wrote to IRKUT Corp and Rosoboronexport about having problems with the aircraft's ejection seats on multiple occasions. One letter stated that it had cascading effect on demand of rotables as huge quantities of unserviceable aggregates are lying due for overhaul at various bases of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The letter, part of a set of documents leaked by the ‘Russian Cyber Command’, an anti-government hackers group, further states, “The delay in deputation of Russian specialists for aggregates is having further impact on the schedule. In the absence of Russian specialists, to meet the urgency HAL has done commissioning and mastering of 19 aggregates. Four aircraft have been inducted into HAL for overhaul and 15 more will fall due in the production year.”
The move comes after ejection seats "fired" while the aircraft was attempting to land making this the third incident of its kind.
The glitch ejected both pilots due to a malfunction in the system. The pilotless jet crashed 20 km short of the IAF base at Lohegaon. No loss of life or damage to property was reported.
IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha recently told media persons that the Su-30 fleet was facing certain problems, but he refused to elaborate.
“The Court of Inquiry is in progress and certain specific checks are being conducted on the aircraft. As and when the checks are complete and the court is satisfied, the Su-30s will be put back into flying,” a statement released by the air force said.