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Soubhik Mitra, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, February 11, 2011
One of the two pilot unions in Air India, on Thursday, accused the airline of allegedly overlooking passenger safety to allow a junior pilot to train on the Boeing 777 aircraft, which is the latest addition to its fleet. Incidentally, the pilot’s father holds a senior rank in the company.

On Thursday, the Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG) reported the matter to the civil aviation ministry and the Central Labour Commission. According to the complaint (a copy of which is available with HT), captain Aditya Beri, a pilot with the Air India Express, the airline’s low-cost subsidiary, had been training on the Boeing 777 aircraft since January.

Beri’s training allegedly flouts the airline’s training policy, which does not permit pilots without experience on jet engine powered aircraft to train on wide-bodied planes such as the Boeing 777.

The union alleged that the airline management favoured Beri because his father captain NK Beri was the officer of special duty to Arvind Jadhav, chairman and managing director of the airline. Sources said the airline had enough senior pilots who could be trained to operate the B777 planes.

The union also pointed out that the present wage agreement between the management and pilots did not permit AI Express pilots to train on the parent airline’s aircraft fleet, which comprise planes such as A310, B777 and B747-400. “Therefore allowing captain Beri to train on the AI fleet was a gross violation of industrial practices,” said Jeetendra Awhad, president, IPG.

“We want the ministry to intervene and stop this violation and conduct an investigation into the matter,” said Awhad.

An Air India spokesperson refused to the comment on the matter.