How ‘hurrying, harried’ crew led to Air India engineer’s death

  • Tushar Srivastava, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 17, 2016 15:03 IST
Plane involved in the accident was Air India Mumbai-Hyderabad AI 619. (HT File Photo)

Air India (AI) pilots who were to operate the Mumbai-Hyderabad flight that sucked a technician inside its engine on December 16, 2015, were in a tearing hurry as terrible crew and flight scheduling resulted in them running late by over an hour for the fateful flight, an investigation has revealed.

The technician, Ravi Subramanian, died on the spot — his limbs and head were shredded. The aircraft had begun taxiing without the pilots realising that four ground personnel were still around. While Subramanian, who had his back towards the plane, was sucked in, others managed to escape.

Before operating the Mumbai-Hyderabad flight, the pilots had operated a Rajkot-Mumbai flight. “As per schedule, the Rajkot-Mumbai flight was to arrive at 8.10pm. AI 619 (Mumbai-Hyderabad) was to depart at 7.30pm,” said the preliminary investigation report submitted to the aviation ministry, which has listed a series of glaring lapses.

Flight scheduling was such that the pilots were already 40 minutes late for the next flight.

A delay in the flight from Rajkot meant that it reached Mumbai only at 8.35pm — over an hour after the Hyderabad flight was scheduled to depart. “Thereafter, both cockpit crew got down from the aircraft and rushed to operate AI 619,” the report said.

A 30-minute time gap should be given to crew when there is a change of aircraft, the report has recommended. AI did not offer comments.

In another grave violation, while the pilots were running late, an off-duty AI pilot who was travelling as a passenger to Hyderabad obtained clearance from the air traffic control, as first reported by HT on February 5.

The aircraft maintenance engineer (AME), who has to be present near the aircraft when it is being pushed back, was missing. “The departure AME was not present,” it said.

“The pilot must not release the parking brakes till he gets a ‘thumbs-up’ signal. The co-pilot stated that he got the ‘thumbs-up’ clearance. As per the statement of ground crew, no person had given the signal to the pilots,” the report said.

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