Special investigation cell to probe international flight incident: govt

  • Soubhik Mitra, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Oct 22, 2014 22:20 IST

More than four days after a Mumbai-bound Singapore Airlines flight encountered a mid-air turbulence causing physical hurt to 22 people on board, the Air Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB), a special investigation cell set up by the civil aviation ministry in 2011 to probe serious air mishaps, has decided to take over the probe.

The Hindustan Times on Tuesday published a report on independent air safety experts slamming the aviation safety regulator for allegedly going soft on the foreign carrier.

“We have already written to the AAIB to take over the probe,” said Prabhat Kumar, director general of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Bir Singh Rai, deputy director general of AAIB concurred. “We are accessing the necessary paperwork to take over the probe since it involves a foreign carrier,” said Rai.

On Monday independent air safety experts had accused the DGCA of being lenient towards Singapore Airlines. The DGCA officials allowed the airline to fly back with the aircraft within two hours of its arrival in the city.

The DGCA were also late in reporting the matter to the regulator’s headquarters in Delhi, experts claimed. Kumar, however, declined to comment on allegations that DGCA was lenient in its investigations.

Even as 16 of the 22 hurt in the mid-air turbulence had to be sent to LH Hiranandani Hospital in Powai, the DGCA preliminary investigation treated the case as a minor incident, experts said adding that the DGCA should have referred the case to the AAIB soon after it happened. Despite being touted to be a crack air mishap-probing outfit, the AAIB’s record has been dismal until recently.

Of the 28 incidents under its probe only 9 were completed until August. Some of these incidents were dated nearly two years back.

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