Thursday, October 27, 2016

Pilot to fly again despite risky manoeuvres in air

Air India and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have permitted a senior executive commander to return to flying though investigations proved that he had intentionally flown a Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft dangerously, first during the critical take-off phase, where he manipulated the aircraft computers, and then during cruise, by when he had put the aircraft into a climb beyond its operational capabilities.
A committee of senior pilot trainers who investigated the incident found the commander's cockpit behaviour questionable and recommended psychiatric evaluation by air force doctors.
He did not have to face the air force doctors, though. Instead, he could be back into the Dreamliner cockpit next week. Capt Mohan Ranganathan, an air safety expert, said: "If DGCA and the airline cleared such a person to fly, then neither of them have any concept about flight safety."
The incident pertains to the Delhi-Paris AI flight 143, operated on April 28. Pre-flight, when the first officer fed the temperature data — it was 41 degrees Celsius — into the on-board computer to calculate the various take-off speeds, the avionics system gave a "take-off not possible" response, as the point from where the Boeing 787 was holding on runway 29 of Delhi airport that day a safe take off was not possible. When temperature rises, air turns thinner, has lesser oxygen and aircraft engines take longer to develop the thrust required to lift off. The heavier the aircraft, higher the thrust needed to be airborne. So on a hot day, a heavy aircraft needs a comparatively longer length of runway to speed up and be airborne.
Now, the pilots had to either reduce the aircraft weight — by offloading cargo, for instance — or wait for the temperature to go down. The commander instead told the co-pilot to enter a lower temperature setting in the computer. "That was nothing but cheating and manipulating the aircraft computer to make it believe that the temperature was lower so that we could take off. He used threat and intimidation and forced me to send wrong speeds to the flight management computer," said the written testimony the first officer gave the AI probe team.
27/10/16 Manju V/The Times Of India