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Mid-air hiccups: 130 Jet pilots have flown planes on expired licences

Taking unprecedented action on the findings, aviation regulator DGCA has issued show-cause notices to the pilots and the airline on why their flying licence should not be cancelled or suspended.

business Updated: Sep 06, 2014 11:09 IST
Tushar Srivastava
Tushar Srivastava
Hindustan Times

Over 130 Jet Airways pilots have flown planes on expired licences, an audit of the airline’s training facilities by aviation regulator DGCA has revealed. The report, submitted to DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar, said other “discrepancies of serious nature” had also been observed.

Taking unprecedented action on the explosive report, the regulator has issued show-cause notices to the pilots and the airline on why their flying licence should not be cancelled or suspended. “Another show-cause notice will be issued to CEO Cramer Ball on why action should not be taken against Jet Airways for the lapses,” a DGCA official said.

The regulator has also ordered the removal of the airline’s chief of training for “lack of supervision of flight crew training and permitting release of flight crew for flying duties without corrective training”. Action is being taken against the previous head of training for similar failures during his tenure.

The DGCA also wants action against the airline’s chief of operations for permitting flight operations by pilots without undergoing corrective training. It also ordered action against trainers (senior-most pilots) and has asked for several of the pilots to be taken off the roster.

The audit was done after the airline’s Mumbai-Brussels flight plunged 5,000ft over Turkish airspace on August 8.

A Jet Airways spokesperson said they hadn’t received a notice from the DGCA till Friday and would respond only after they got the notices.

The report, prepared by a team led by Joint DG Lalit Gupta, stated that 131 pilots had been detected to be flying even after the “expiry of validity of pilot proficiency check”, which is conducted once every six months.

It was also found that the strength of trainers was substantially lower than prescribed by DGCA resulting in delayed and deficient training of pilots. “Few pilots found deficient in simulator training were subsequently released by head of training for normal flying duties without undergoing corrective training. In few cases, the crew after failure in checks had been put to flying without undergoing corrective training,” says the report.

The report further found “inadequacy in training given to B777 pilots on simulator for crosswind landings”.

The DGCA approval for the type-rating training organisation utilised by Jet Airways for training purposes from July 15, 2010 to June 15, 2014 was also found to have lapsed.