Tragic Start to Aero India 2019

Surya Kiran Hawks

David Oliver – India’s premier biennial airshow, Aero India 2019 held at Yelahanka Air Force Station at Bangalore had a downbeat opening.

On the eve of the opening on 20 February two Indian Air Force (IAF) Hawk Mk.132 aircraft belonging to the Surya Kiran Aerobatic team were involved in a mid-air collision while rehearsing the mirror routine. The two Hawks crashed on the outskirts of Yelahanka. One pilot was killed while two others ejected successfully with limited injuries. This came three weeks after an IAF Mirage-2000 crashed at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Airport at Bangalore on February 1, killing both pilots.

Prior to the opening of the airshow it was revealed that the number of foreign companies attending was down by 40 percent with only 165 compared with 279 at the last Aero India in 2017. Also with only 238 domestic companies attending this was also down by 12 percent compared with 270 at the previous show. Only 61 aircraft were on display compared with a previous total of 72 aircraft. Missing this year from the flying display was the Saab Gripen, which, according to Saab head of communications, was due to uncertainty over dates.

by David Oliver