Pilots of passenger flights can no longer let junior colleagues in the cockpit to practise take-off and landings as they wish.
A draft policy, issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on May 8, states such supervised procedures will be allowed depending on the pilots’ experience, weather conditions and the kind of airstrip. “Take-off and touchdown are two most critical phases of a flight, so preventive safety measures should be in place when junior pilots do these manoeuvres,” said a senior DGCA official.
Recent near-mishaps at Mumbai airport have coaxed the aviation safety regulator to propose a laid-down procedure for supervised take-offs and touchdowns by co-pilots. A preliminary probe into a March 9 accident, where an Indigo Airlines flight carrying 140 passengers veered to the left of the runway and broke five edge lights, showed confusion over cockpit control. The draft states that in case of an emergency during supervised take-off or landing, the senior pilot should take charge by announcing, “I have the controls”.
Until now, pilots with 1,000 hours of flying experience as commanders could permit supervised manoeuvres. The new draft states that anyone attempting such moves must have at least 3,000 hours of total flying experience.
The proposed rules are particularly strict during monsoons. Co-pilots will not be allowed to land a flight on a wet runway, if runway visibility is poor, or if the wind is blowing at more than 10 knots across the airstrip.
The DGCA has also asked airlines to maintain a database of pilots authorised for such supervised manoeuvres and update it regularly.