Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Woman pilot seeks PM’s intervention; Says DGCA targeted her while her senior was allowed to go scot-free

The co-pilot and first officer on Air India flight AI 669, which was involved in a runway incursion at
Mumbai airport on September 16, has complained to the Prime Minister against the Directorate General of Civil Aviation for serving her a show-cause notice, while allowing the pilot-in-command (PIC) to go scotfree.
Accusing the aviation regulator of not following the principles of natural justice, the pilot expressed shock at its decision to not only allow the more experienced pilot to fly but also exercise his privileges as an examiner without waiting for her explanation. On September 16, Air India’s AI 669 was scheduled to fly MumbaiBhubaneswar sector when the A320 aircraft went on the wrong taxiway on way to the main runway for takeoff. The PIC and the first officer were de-rostered, pending investigation by the DGCA.
On November 15, DGCA deputy director of air safety served a notice only to the co-pilot and first officer to explain why further action should not be taken against her. The notice said the investigation had revealed that she was not conversant with the topography of the aerodrome and did not take the correct turn at the junction where three taxiway M, taxiway N1, and taxiway E meet.
The notice also said she did not follow the aircraft’s progress on the aerodrome chart to ensure that the PIC taxiing the aircraft follows the instructions given from the air traffic control (ATC). The notice also states that the first officer was involved in “head down activities” during the critical phase of taxiing, and hence did not ensure that the PIC followed the ATC instructions.
The woman pilot was asked to submit a written reply within 15 days.
The PIC involved in the incident is an examiner at Air India and also the deputy general manager at the central training establishment of Air India. While two enquiries into the incident were held on September 26 and September 30 at the Mumbai office of DGCA, the PIC was reportedly cleared to fly while the woman pilot was served the show-cause notice.
“The captain has been flying as an airline pilot for more than 30 years, and is more familiar with the layout of Mumbai airport than me who has less than 2 years  of flying experience. Yet the entire blame has been laid on me,” she said seeking intervention from the PMO.
27/11/19 Satish Nandgaonkar/Mumbai Mirror
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