New Delhi, February 15: Two Indian Air Force pilots were killed after a microlight aircraft they were flying in crashed in Majuli, Assam, on Thursday. The aircraft, which took off from Jorhat on a routine sortie, crashed in the river island around noon killing Wing Commander J James and Wing Commander D Vats.

“An Indian Air Force Microlight Virus SW-80 crashed around 1200 hrs today, after getting airborne from Air Force Station Jorhat, for a routine sortie,” the defence ministry said in a statement in New Delhi.

Defence spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Harshvardhan Pande told PTI that the pilots attempted an emergency landing but the aircraft crashed in a sand bar and went up in flames. People from villages in the district spotted the aircraft going up in flames and informed the  authorities.

A court of inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident, the ministry said.

The IAF had procured around 80 Slovenian-origin microlight aircraft about three years ago. They are usually deployed for environmental and bird recce missions, an IAF official said.

(With inputs from PTI)