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Aviation safety UPSC NOTE

 Why in news

  • The fatal crash of a Bell 212 helicopter flying the President of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, and Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, is one more accident involving high-profile passengers, in mountainous terrain and in very poor visibility

  • Given the increased tensions in West Asia and the gung-ho attitude of Israel, with open American support, suspicion will be raised about the Israeli hand

  • Tel Aviv has denied this and distanced itself from the crash, but neither the United States nor Israel have any credibility left for the world to accept their innocence without serious cross-checks.

Indian incidents

  • There have been a number of fatal crashes involving very very important persons (VVIPs). 

  • On September 2, 2009, a Bell helicopter crash claimed the life of the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. 

  • The copter crashed in the hills near Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, in poor visibility conditions, killing all on board. 

  • As is the norm in accident investigation reports in India, the truth was hidden and the pilots blamed.

  • On December 8, 2021, India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, and his entourage died in an Indian Air Force Mi-17 helicopter crash near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu

  • Here again, it was hilly terrain and in fog.

Weather and judgement

  • In fog and heavy rain, the visual illusions are plenty and depth perception induced by rainwater flowing down the aircraft/helicopter windscreen makes a huge impact

  • Several accidents have been caused due to misjudgements induced by optical illusions

  • Navigation in poor visibility has become easier with the use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) with an accuracy as close as a metre. 

  • The accuracy takes a hit if one uses a different system where the datum shifts

  • Military aircraft, to avoid enemy interception or identification, tweak the system. 

  • Worldwide, it is the WGS 84 which is the base datum

  • The Indian Air Force uses a system called EVER-MD

  • Datum shift can result in an error of between 10 metres and 3,000m

  • The Balakot fiasco, which is denied vigorously by the Indian Air Force but confirmed to be a miss by world organisations with very accurate sightings, was caused by the position input based on one datum and the missiles using the co-ordinates based on the WGS 84.


  • We have had several accidents, both fatal as well as hull losses without fatalities

  • Many of them have had pilots making similar errors, and blatant violation of rules by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the Airports Authority of India and airlines

  • Yet, we turn a blind eye to aviation safety

  • It is a pity we have a judiciary whose understanding of aviation safety is so poor.

  • Decisions about a flight by the pilot should never be overruled by a person on board, irrespective of his or her rank

  • It takes just a few seconds of delayed action induced by stress and fatigue to court disaster



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Aviation safety UPSC NOTE
Aviation safety UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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