Air India flight held up for an hour after aircraft engineer’s tiff with pilot

The aircraft maintenance engineer allegedly forced the pilot to accept the aircraft in fuel imbalance condition. The pilot refused and insisted on balancing the fuel for its departure.
The Air India flight AI 826 was scheduled to take off at 1.10pm from Srinagar airport but was delayed by an hour. (Representational Image/HT Photo)
The Air India flight AI 826 was scheduled to take off at 1.10pm from Srinagar airport but was delayed by an hour. (Representational Image/HT Photo)
Updated on Jan 26, 2022 01:32 PM IST
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ByNeha LM Tripathi

NEW DELHI: An altercation between a senior Air India pilot and an aircraft maintenance engineer (AME) on Tuesday at the Srinagar airport led to an hour’s delay on the Srinagar- Delhi flight, the pilot has complained to the airline management.

Air India flight AI 826 was scheduled to take off at 1.10pm but was delayed as the aircraft engineer refused to abide by the rules, the pilot alleged, according to a copy of the complaint. HT has reviewed the complaint.

The argument picked up when the commandant, flying the Airbus fleet in the airline, brought to the notice of the ground staff that there was an imbalance of 1400kg of fuel (an imbalance of fuel means that the fuel in both the wings was not equally filled, due to which, according to the rules, take off is not allowed). The AME allegedly forced the pilot to accept the aircraft in fuel imbalance condition. The pilot refused and insisted on balancing the fuel for its departure.

Airline officials said that instead of balancing the fuel, the AME allegedly asked the pilot to report the aircraft to have ‘snag’ after which he would declare it to be grounded. “It was after around 35-40 minutes that another AME attended the aircraft and balanced the fuel after which the aircraft took off at around 2.05pm,” said an official.

Air India spokesperson did not comment on the matter.

The pilot reported the incident to the Air India management and alleged that the AME has behavioural issues. The complaint said, “Due to high security airport and that too next day (being) Republic Day (I) fail to understand why they want to ground the aircraft. Please look into it through a security angle and intentionally for grounding.”

The complaint further said, “I request for urgent appropriate restitution against outrageous mortification sufficed by the undersigned... This will address the prevalent issues of onerous and worrisome duty of some and insincerity of others keeping in view the high headed behaviour.”

A former airline official, who did not wish to be named, said, “This (is) a classic example of how the new trend in aviation is to fly compromising with the safety of passengers. The trend is seen more with the low-cost carriers coming into the market, which needs to be addressed on an urgent basis.”

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