Two Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots perished today (December 4th) when their Pilatus PC-7 Mk II trainer aircraft tragically crashed during a routine training sortie near Dundigal, Telangana. The aircraft, which had taken off from the Dundigal Air Force station just hours earlier, was found completely charred in the vicinity of Toopran town, approximately 40 km away.
An official statement released by the IAF confirmed both pilots aboard the aircraft sustained fatal injuries. The statement further announced the constitution of a Court of Inquiry to ascertain the cause of the accident. Notably, this marks the first-ever crash involving the PC-7 Mk II since its induction into the IAF’s fleet nearly a decade ago, having logged around 200,000 hours of flying time since then.
What is the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II?
The Pilatus PC-7 Mk II is a popular turboprop trainer aircraft manufactured by the Swiss company Pilatus Aircraft. It is a single-engine, low-wing aircraft designed primarily for basic and advanced pilot training.
Here are 5 key things to know about the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II:
- Trainer Aircraft: The PC-7 Mk II is specifically designed to facilitate the flight training of aspiring pilots and aircrews. Modern military aircraft are complex and challenging to master, requiring rookies to first hone their skills on simpler, more forgiving aircraft like the PC-7 Mk II.
- Safety Record: While the PC-7 Mk II generally boasts a good safety record, this tragic incident marks the first fatal crash involving the aircraft since its adoption by the IAF in 2012.
- Technical Specifications: The aircraft is powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-62 turboprop engine, boasting a maximum speed of 412 km/h and a range of 1,200 km without external fuel tanks. It can climb to a maximum altitude of over 10,000 meters.
- Global Presence: The PC-7 Mk II is utilized by over 20 air forces worldwide, including those of Angola, Bolivia, Jordan, Qatar, and South Africa.
- Future of the PC-7 Mk II in India: The crash has raised concerns regarding the continued use of the PC-7 Mk II by the IAF. The investigation’s findings will likely determine the future trajectory of this aircraft within the Indian Air Force.