Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Air India Crash: Blaming Pilots Before Black Box is Decoded Exposes Meritocracy vs Babugiri in Aviation

This piece is neither against any lobby nor against any organisation. It is against the laissez faire attitude of the powers that be -- the policy makers -- when it comes to selecting and positioning heads of professional aviation-related organisations.

There, a we-can-manage-better-than-anyone-else feeling overrides the dictates of expertise, knowledge and wisdom that accrues from having served as a foot slogger in the field and rising to management level in a profession where life and death matters.

The recent statement of the DGCA after the Air India Express crash, in a way castigating the pilots even before the decoding of the black boxes had begun, is a pointer to the rot in the selection system. A real life example that shows how babugiri rules the roost would drive home the point.

The Public Enterprise Selection Board (PESB) selects heads of professional government and semi government undertakings; that they have an onerous task would be stating the obvious.

In 2011-12, the PESB advertised for the post of the CMD of Pawan Hans Ltd – an out and out helicopter aviation company. Joint Secretary-level officers, and of their paygrade equivalent, could apply for the post. Accordingly, two serving Air Vice Marshals of the IAF sent in their applications. One of the AVMs was Assistant Chief of the Air Staff looking after operations of the transport and helicopter fleets of the IAF (and had been a Pawan Hans Board Member for two-and-half years until recently) while the other was the maintenance head of the same two fleets.
12/08/20 Air Vice Marshal (Retd) Manmohan Bahadur/News18
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