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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

In 20 days, aviation regulator suspends 12 pilots for a year

The country’s aviation regulator has suspended 12 pilots from across the country, in six different investigations.

mumbai Updated: Aug 07, 2019 11:27 IST
Neha LM Tripathi
Neha LM Tripathi
Hindustan Times,Mumbai
12 pilots from across the country suspended.
12 pilots from across the country suspended.(PTI photo)

In the past 20 days, the country’s aviation regulator has suspended 12 pilots from across the country, in six different investigations.

This is the first time that the Directorate General Civil Aviation (DGCA) has suspended pilots for a year. Industry experts said the rapid frequency of incidents suggested the training imparted to pilots needs improvement.

The six cases that the DGCA has been investigating cover a three-month period, beginning with April 29 when SpiceJet’s (B737 aircraft) Delhi-Shirdi flight overshot the runway. On June 9, pilots of Air Asia’s Delhi- Srinagar flight ignored the warning that the aircraft’s first engine had failed.

June 30 saw two separate incidents of flights overshooting the runway – one was by Air India Express’s B737 aircraft, operating from Dubai to Mangalore, and the other was a SpiceJet aircraft operating on the Bhopal-Surat route. On July 1, a Jaipur-Mumbai SpiceJet flight overshot the main runway at Mumbai airport. On July 2, a Spicejet B737 veered off the runway at Kolkata airport and damaged four runway edge lights. The DGCA has been taking action in these cases since July 16, when the pilots were suspended for the July 2 incident. The most recent suspension was on Monday, when the pilots were suspended for the April 29 incident.

Aviation safety expert Captain Mohan Ranganathan said the six cases suggest a systemic problem.

“These recent incidents are not just errors on the part of the pilots, but a system error. Different pilots working for the same airlines are making errors. So the larger picture is to work on the training imparted to them. Until action is not taken against the heads from the training department, the quality of the training given to the pilots will not improve,” said Ranganathan.

Arun Kumar, director general, DGCA, said the regulator is working on improving the training imparted to pilots. An industry expert, requesting anonymity, said, “These days, airlines conduct training sessions to the cockpit and cabin crew members only to fulfil the DGCA’s mandate, which makes them eligible to fly,” they said.

One expert also pointed out the need to follow up on cases. Two days after SpiceJet Jaipur-Mumbai flight overshot the main runway at the Mumbai airport on July 1, the DGCA had conducted an unplanned surveillance after which it issued a show-cause notice to four SpiceJet executives. “The airline was supposed to respond to the regulator. But none of us know the status on this matter,” said the expert.

Kumar said, “We supervise the airlines’ training facilities. From now on, all airport operators will have to mandatorily conduct periodic friction test and remove rubber (accumulated from the aircraft tyres) to keep the runways in proper condition that will enable proper braking action so that any untoward incidents are fully avoided.”

First Published: Aug 07, 2019 00:00 IST