The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered a “surprise surveillance” of all Indian carriers to ensure that they are following flight safety rules.
The order follows a July 7 HT report on an incident on Air India’s (AI) Bengaluru-Hyderabad flight 513 that allegedly had a narrow escape when the pilot did a “touch and go” after bouncing on the runway during landing.
“A one-time surprise surveillance of all airlines to check whether they are complying with the Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) norms will be carried out,” said a DGCA official.
Following the HT report, DGCA ordered a probe into the incident and asked AI to submit details of the aircraft’s digital flight data recording (DFDR), which all airlines have to mandatorily preserve for six months.
“In a shocking revelation, AI informed us that it didn’t have the DFDR records of the flight. This is a serious safety violation. We have served a show-cause notice to Captain AS Soman, AI’s chief of flight safety,” said a DGCA official.
DGCA will also call for questioning the pilots who operated the flight and is in touch with Hyderabad airport officials to get more details of the incident.
Sources said AI has suspended an aircraft maintenance engineer responsible for transferring the DFDR content.
The incident came came to light after a passenger, Wing Commander Venkataramana Mantha, filed a complaint saying the pilot’s decision to take off again had seriously jeopardised flight safety.
“The flaps are down in the landing condition and the speed is absolutely low because you have touched down. We managed to escape as there were hardly 40-45 passengers,” Mantha, a retired Indian Air Force flight test engineer, had told HT.
“Had there been 130-140 passengers, the aircraft would have dropped like a stone from a height of 200 feet and we would have had a crash on the runway.”