Tuesday, 17 July 2007

INDIAN AIR FORCE SKITTERS OVER CALIFORNIA

The record-breaking Indian Air Force (IAF) micro light aircraft flight that has AeroMechanical's tracking and communication's technology on board is scheduled to land at a small airport outside Los Angeles July 17th.

The two IAF fighter pilots flying this quick but quirky aircraft took off from Delhi, India on June 1st, hoping to circle the globe in 64 days in order to beat the current world record of 98 days.
They have battled monsoons throughout China's eastern coast and the remote, frozen landscape over eastern Russia to get this far.

The single-prop aircraft weighs less than 500 kilograms - fully loaded with one pilot on takeoff - and it cruises at 240 kms per hour. But because of it's light weight and configuration, it frequently gets blown around like a fluffy Dandelion seed.

At one remote Chinese airfield, the craft was just about to touch down when a gust of wind rocketed it 50 feet back up into the air. It took three harrowing attempts before it was solidly on ground.



Pilot Rahul Monga, 37, a father of two young boys, normally flies attack helicopters while his co-pilot Anil Kumar, 38, a father of one young boy, handles supersonic jet fighters.

The two have taken this dangerous mission on for two reasons: to cut 34 days off the current record for a micro light weighing between 300-500 kilograms; and, as a goodwill mission to celebrate the IAF’s 75th Anniversary.

From the Santa Paula airport, located about 50 miles east of Los Angeles, they are scheduled to head northeast to Colorado Springs, southeast to Jacksonville, Florida, than due north to Toronto, Canada. They hope to exit North America from Canada’s frozen north, hop over to Greenland, Iceland, Europe and then home to India.

The most dangerous passage to date was crossing the Bering Sea on July 5th.

Monga was the only one flying the craft as it crossed over those frigid waters because Kumar was replaced on the Russian leg by a local navigator, a mandatory requirement when that country’s air controllers speak only Russian.

If engine troubles had forced Monga to ditch the plane, he would have had only six minutes to three hours to survive, depending on whether he was able to get an immersion survival suit on in time.

That is where AeroMechanical's breakthrough tracking and communications technology called the Automated Flight Information Reporting System (AFIRS) could have saved his life.
The equipment allows IAF officers sitting in a control room in north central India to constantly track where the micro light is.

It also allows controllers to talk to the pilot by satellite phone, whether over the Bering Sea or over some remote jungle.

Had Monga ditched the aircraft, IAF controllers could have called in rescue teams and pinpointed exactly where in the Bering Sea to look.

Ironically, this micro light is better equipped than most modern-day passenger jets that used a land-based radio system. That latter system suffers from blackout zones in large patches of the world. In addition, airlines can't track their craft in many regions of the globe.