Hyderabad Air Show crash kills 2 India Navy pilots
By Steve Herman
Two elite Indian Navy pilots died when their aerobatic jet crashed in Hyderabad during the inauguration of a high-profile civil air show.
Spectators from more than 100 countries were watching the inauguration of India's largest aviation show when one of the military jets broke off from three other aircraft in formation, went into a spin and plummeted into a nearby neighborhood.
Hyderabad police chief Abdul Khayyum Khan says the jet smashed into a residential building.
"Fortunately not many residents were there. Four of the injured, they have shifted to hospital," he said.
India's naval chief, Admiral Nirmal Verma, tells reporters both pilots died in the crash of the indigenous Kiran Mark-Two trainer turbojet.
"The possibility is that, either, time-wise there was a problem [with ejecting] or they were making all efforts to ensure that damage is minimized to any civil area there," he said.
The pilots were part of the "Sea Breeze," performance team which began shows seven years ago. The squad is one of the world's few naval aerobatic teams.
Naval officials say it is premature to speculate on what caused the crash of the aircraft.
Media reports cite a possible bird strike or hydraulic failure. The navy says all flights of the team are suspended until the cause of the accident is determined.
Among the spectators at Begumpet Airport, where the Indian Aviation Expo is being held, was U.S. Ambassador Timothy Roemer. He issued a statement of condolence saying "these heartbreaking losses have even more piercing impact when you are part of the event."
Indian Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, who was also at the ill-fated inauguration, told the media the five-day exhibition will continue despite what he termed an unfortunate mishap.
The industry event in Hyderabad has attracted hundreds of aviation executive from Asia, Europe and North America, as well as their Indian counterparts and senior Indian government officials.