AI crew on Australia-bound flights suffer from fatigue: Study

  • Soubhik Mitra, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Nov 12, 2014 20:20 IST

An in-house risk assessment study on Air India’s (AI) Australia-bound flights had found that the flight attendants were at a fatigue risk of four on a scale of five. A tired crew will be unable to handle an emergency such as fire evacuation, said air safety experts.

The airline’s In-flight Service Training and Development Centre (IFSTDC) submitted the report in May but the airline management made no changes in cabin crew duty schedules and rest rules as recommended in the report. On the risk severity scale, five stood for catastrophic while four referred to hazardous consequences.

On May 12, Poonam Sareen, manager of the IFDTDC, sent the report to the airline management advising them to conduct scientific studies before continuing flight operations. HT has a copy of the email.

The report directed the airline to appoint a ‘more competent board’ such as the Fatigue Safety Action Group to study work hours of AI flight attendants posted on operations bound to Australia. It added that such a study would show a clearer picture on the extent of flight fatigue on a crew’s work ability and its overall impact on passengers’ safety.

The report concluded that if the airline continued to use the same set of crew for consecutively on Australia-bound flights the ‘crew’s ability to pro-actively react to mid-air emergencies will be compromised leading to hazardous consequences’.

The AI chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan and the airline spokesperson did not respond to HT’s calls and a query on the alleged ‘cover-up’ sent over email.

The alleged cover-up by the national carrier has come to light in less than two weeks after its cabin union claimed that the airline has been tweaking flight duty rules on the long distance route by faking a waiver from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The union had claimed so by producing Right to Information responses by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) wherein it denied giving any dispensations.

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