Air India pilots are facing the heat for being in a hurry to get off an aircraft soon after touchdown. A circular sent out by the airline management last week stated that some pilots were found leaving the plane even before passengers. The note issued by captain Arvind Kathpalia, executive director, operations, warned such pilots to stay put until passengers had left.
“It had been noticed time and again that after landing even before passengers get off the plane, the pilot immediately disembark. All pilots are hereby informed that they must not leave the cockpit till passengers deplane. The same is for strict compliance,” read the circular.
While the practice is not new, the warning has come now after Europe’s aviation safety regulator rapped the airline, said sources.
The issue came to light in the wake of random inspections by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Most proactive regulators across the globe conduct these checks known as Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA) on airlines belonging to other countries. Flight crew is supposed to leave the aircraft after passengers as a preventive safety measure, said officials.
This time when EASA inspectors turned up on board some AI flights plying to European cities, they were shocked to find no pilots on board. These inspectors come with a checklist of queries which the pilots are supposed to answer.
“Such checks are common. We have even had FAA (US aviation regulator) inspectors travel as inquisitive passengers who keeping asking cabin crew about how certain safety devices work,” said a retired AI cabin crew personnel requesting anonymity.
DGCA chief BS Bhullar and the AI chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani was not available for a comment.
This was not a stray case of callous behavior by AI pilots. In June, the AI management banned rostering of pilots with spouses, siblings and children but lifted it under pressure from unions. The airline had also warned pilots for refusing flights where they were not paired with favourite colleagues.