“Incorrect formation” caused fatal Surya Kiran crash at Aero India

Pilot error has been identified as the probable cause of a fatal crash at Aero India in February, according to the Hindustan Times.

One pilot was killed and two were injured when a pair of Hawk Mk.132 jet trainers of the Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team made contact during a display rehearsal on the 19th February.

The aircraft were performing a mirror pass – a manoeuvre which sees one jet fly inverted above a second jet flying erect. To minimise the risk of a collision, there should be both lateral and vertical separation between the two aircraft. However, an anonymous official quoted by the Times said that the two aircraft were flying in an “incorrect formation”, with one jet directly below the other.

Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi, who was flying the inverted jet, was killed when his aircraft descended into the second jet and broke apart. The two pilots in the second jet were able to eject safely.

The official investigation is still going, with the Indian Air Force warning that there could be “serious implications for the erring pilot”.

Surya Kiran flew a 7-ship display as a tribute to their fallen colleague at Aero India, but have not displayed since.