Wednesday, September 23, 2020

DGCA under radar for probe lapses in Cessna crash report

Hyderabad: An independent aircraft accident investigation body has pointed out glaring inadequacies in Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) team's aviation academy audit after the 2019 Sultanpur Cessna flight crash. Though a second pilot was in the aircraft, which was on a solo flight, DGCA failed to capture "procedural anomalies and safety lapses", it pointed out.

Trainee pilot Amanpreet Kaur (21) from Punjab and commercial pilot licence holder Prakash Vishal (21) from Delhi lost their lives when the Cessna 172 S aircraft of Wings Aviation Pvt Ltd crashed in agricultural fields of Sultanpur village in Vikarabad district on October 6, 2019.

Air Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB), which works under the aegis of the ministry of civil aviation, conducted the investigation into the incident and completed the final report in June 2020.

Stating that aircraft encountering downward wind shear while flying at low altitude was the reason for the mishap, the AAIB's two-member team - RS Passi and K Ramachandran - in their report made specific remarks about the DGCA's audit of the Wings Aviation Academy Pvt Ltd after the accident. DGCA is the nation's apex regulatory body in civil aviation, primarily dealing with safety issues, including investigation into accidents.

Deeper and closer look into the report of the audit team indicates that the purpose of this audit was not proactive but rather was to restart the flying activities of the flying training organisation (FTO) at the earliest,” the AAIB report said.

“Surveillance/Audit carried out by DGCA were not in true letter and spirit. Procedural anomalies and safety lapses observed during investigation could have been easily captured during the audit,” the AAIB report said, indirectly referring to DGCA audit not specifically mentioning about the presence of second pilot Prakash Vishal in the aircraft, which as per the records was on solo cross country flight with trainee pilot Amanpreet Kaur on board.

The report also mentioned, “DGCA should carry out its safety oversight function over FTOs in a more meaningful manner covering all the aspects of operational procedures and flying training. DGCA should advise all chief flight instructors (CFIs) to ensure that the pilot training is conducted strictly as per the laid down regulations and without any deviation.”

As per the report, the crosscountry flight planned for 0200 UTC (Universal Time Coordinated) was revised to 0500 UTC due to visibility below 5,000 metres and deputy chief flight instructor (Dy CFI), Raunak Cyril, authorised the trainee pilot for solo cross-country flight from Begumpet overflying Gobur. It was Amanpreet Kaur’s second solo cross-country flight.

23/09/20 Mahesh Buddi/Times of India

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