More than three months after a Kuwait Airways flight allegedly flew three excess passengers from Mumbai to Kuwait, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday ordered a probe into the matter.
In a major safety violation, Kuwait Airways on October 12 carried three passengers over and above the permissible capacity on board flight 302, which was overbooked. However, it was only a couple of weeks ago that someone tipped off DGCA chief Nasim Zaidi, through a text message on his cellphone about the incident.
Subsequently, the regulator asked Kuwait Airways to explain the matter. “We were not satisfied with their response. Therefore, we have asked the Mumbai regional office to probe the matter,” said Zaidi.
“Safety officer will be checking the trim and load sheets of the particular flight to get clarity on total number of passengers on board,” he added. The trim and load department keeps a track of passengers, baggage, water, food and fuel carried by the flight and ensures that the aircraft is not overloaded.
Carrying passengers beyond the capacity of an aircraft is serious threat to air safety, said safety experts. “Overloading a flight by excess loading of passengers or anything else is illegal,” said Captain Mohan Ranganathan, an air safety expert. “It’s a bigger safety violation, if the airline accommodates passengers in crew seats or in the cockpit.”
In this particular case, it is not clear how the airline accommodated three extra passengers on board a fully booked flight. “There are chances that they were given crew seats or the jump seats inside the cockpit,” said a DGCA official requesting anonymity, as he is not authorised to talk to the media.
A Kuwait Airways official denied that the airline had carried excess passengers. “There was no such violation. We have explained the matter to the DGCA,” said the official who refused to reveal his identity.