AI pilot punished for not flouting DGCA norms | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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AI pilot punished for not flouting DGCA norms

The national carrier Air India (AI) punished a pilot for refusing to fly beyond the aviation regulator’s rule on flight duty timings.

mumbai Updated: Jul 20, 2011 01:29 IST
Soubhik Mitra

The national carrier Air India (AI) punished a pilot for refusing to fly beyond the aviation regulator’s rule on flight duty timings.

Flight duty rules are framed to ensure that the crew operating the flight is not tired. Several studies across the world have proved that crew fatigue is one of the prime threats to passenger safety.

The incident being probed occurred in January 2010. KG Shaikh, scheduling officer with the airline, allegedly asked captain Anil Rao to operate a Calicut-Bahrain-Doha-Calicut flight after travelling to Calicut as a passenger from Mumbai. Rao refused to operate the flight because it violated the flight duty timings rules laid down by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Consequently, earlier this month, the airline stopped captain Rao’s command training and free tickets for three years. The management has also stagnated his basic pay for the said period. Rao has now appealed against the decision to the airline’s vigilance department.

“The pilot has paid the price for following the rules meant for passenger safety,” said a member from the Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG), an AI pilots’ union.

The inquiry also revealed that the roster entries for this particular flight were made in pencil, which is also a safety violation. According to DGCA’s rule, airlines should make roster entries with ink so that the crew’s flight duty timings cannot be manipulated.

Investigators of the Air India Express crash that killed 158 people in Mangalore on May 22, 2010, had also warned the airline to stop the practice. However, documents available with the Hindustan Times show that the airline continued making pencil entries at least till December 2010.

The Air India spokesperson did not respond to HT’s calls and a query sent to the airline via email on Monday. DGCA chief Bharat Bhushan was also unavailable for comment.