Did you ever get the feeling while at an airport that some pilots appear to be in no shape to fly?
Apparently the aviation regulator agrees with you.
In a sudden move, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) carried out a full-fledged safety audit of regional carrier Air Pegasus after getting several complaints of serious safety violations relating to overworked and fatigued pilots.
Exhausted pilots being forced to work is a sensitive issue with regulators worldwide, and has been blamed for several fatal air crashes such as the Colgan Air crash in the US in February 2009, and a more recent one to West Asia for which the official report has not yet been released.
Decor Aviation-promoted Air Pegasus operates to 16 sectors with Bangalore as its hub, and has a fleet of three ATR 72 aircraft. It launched operations in April last year.
The aviation regulator, sources said, had received complaints against the airline regarding the working of expat pilots and violation of flight duty time limitations (the maximum hours that crew can work) which were considered to be of “serious” nature.
A five-member DGCA team was specially constituted to carry out the audit and dispatched from Delhi in the last week of April.
“Complaints had been received that pilots were being made to work overtime. The airline had also repeatedly sought extensions to allow expat pilots to continue flying without clearing the mandatory proficiency checks that they have to clear within three months of joining an Indian airline,” said an official.
“There was an anonymous complaint sent to the Prime Minister’s Office and the DGCA alleging violations by us. None of the allegations are correct. Our books are open. Except small findings there is nothing,” said Shyson Thomas, MD, Air Pegasus.
“A safety audit is serious business and is not merely undertaken on anonymous complaints. We will be filing our report soon,” said a DGCA official.