Pilot's Mistake Caused Bulgarian MiG 29 Fighter Jet Crash - MinisterDefense | May 2, 2012, Wednesday // 17:05| views
The crashed Bulgarian Air Force jet MiG 29. Photo by Impact Press Group
A pilot's mistake has caused the crash of the Bulgarian Air Force MiG 29, which went down on April 26, 2012, during the Thracian Star 2012 joint military drills with the US, Bulgaria's Defense Minister Anyu Angelov announced.
The conclusion about the cause of the incident is based on a preliminary report of the special commission of Bulgarian Air Force and Military Police experts appointed to investigate the MiG 29 crash, Angelov said, as cited by the press service of the Defense Ministry.
"The most likely cause of the failure of the MiG 29 fighter jet is a mistake in the operation of the equipment at takeoff," Gen. Angelov told reporters in the Central Military Club in Sofia where he opened the week of Bulgarian military documentary film-making.
The crash of the Bulgarian MiG 29, in which the two pilots survived by bailing out, while also managing to direct the fighter jet away from populated areas, led the Bulgarian authorities to cancel the VIP Visitors' Day at the Thracian Star 2012 drills that was supposed to be held on Friday, April 26, 2012.
During the brief absence, as it has emerged, of the Bulgarian Air Force from the drills, the US Air Force continued its schedule training in Southern Bulgaria as part of Thracian Star 2012.
The Bulgarian MiG-29 aircraft plummeted into a river earlier on Thursday between the southern villages of Tsarimir and Golyam Chardak near Plovdiv.
"Brief inattention probably caused actions that were not in accordance with the operation of the military equipment. Mistakes are sometimes caused by the excessive automation of one's actions," the Bulgarian Defense Minister said.
He did stress, however, that regardless of their mistake, the pilots of the MiG 29 deserved praise for their professionalism as they managed to control the crisis situation as well as to avert any loss of life or material damage.
The two Bulgarian pilots – Maj. Iliya Doychinov and Capt. Petar Metodiev – are still in the Military Medical Academy in Sofia with spine injuries.
Angelov pointed out that Maj. Doychinov is an extremely experienced pilot with over 800 flight hours, including 27 since the start of 2012. He did say that the Bulgarian Air Force is still unable to meet NATO's flight hour standards but that it has supplied additional amounts of fuel for training flights.
The Bulgarian Defense Minister noted that the final report of the investigation commission will be completed in 20 days but will not be made public until the Military Prosecutor's Office proclaims the end of the investigation; however, it is said to contain recommendations for improvement based on the MiG 29 incident.
As of April 28, 2012, the Bulgarian military aviation is back in the Thracian Star drills with Su-25 planes.
On April 19, the air forces of the USA and Bulgaria started the most large-scale military aviation drills of their type entitled "Thracian Star 2012".
The drills at the Graf Ignatievo Air Base near the southern Bulgarian city of Plovdiv are conducted jointly by the Bulgarian Air Force, the Romanian Air Force, and the 31st Force Support Squadron stationed at the Aviano Air Base, a NATO Air Base under US Air Force administration in northeastern Italy.
Because of the large number of US F-16 fighter jets participating in the drills – two squadrons of 16 planes each – Bulgarian media have been quick to note that the Aviano Air Base has moved to Graf Ignatievo.
The Thracian Star 2012 drills taking place between April 17 and May 11, 2012, feature Bulgarian Air Force MiG-29, MiG-21, Su-25, and Spartan C-27J planes; US Air Force F-16s, and Romanian Air Force MiG-21s.
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