A day after HT reported that a pilot had been grounded by Air India for refusing to fly a “faulty” aircraft from Riyadh to Mumbai on May 27, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said the pilot took the right decision by not operating the flight at night.
Deputy Director General (DGCA) RP Sahi said: “Whatever he did was right. It is the pilot’s prerogative to decide whether he is in a position to fly a sub-standard aircraft (with technical snag) or not..”
The pilot-in-command is the ultimate authority and nobody could question him, he added.
Sahi said that for operating a sub-standard flight, DGCA’s permission is required and it was issued to Air India before the AI-822 ferry flight (without passengers) was brought to Mumbai.
The DGCA is responsible for implementing, controlling and supervising airworthiness standards, safety operations, crew training in India.
Air India had grounded Capt N.K. Beri (52) after he refused to fly AI-822 flight from Riyadh to Mumbai on May 27 after it developed a technical snag. After taking off from Riyadh, when the pilot found that the landing gears were not retracting, he brought back the flight to Riyadh.
Beri, who has 33 years of flying experience and considered one of the most experienced pilots in Air India, had declined to operate the ferry flight the next day also, saying he did not want to fly the plane without any basic supporting information and the DGCA clearance.
Subsequently, Air India issued him a show-cause notice, saying his action caused the airline “heavy monetary losses” which was also “subjected to an embarrassment”.
Beri, when contacted, refused to comment on the episode.