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2 SpiceJet, 1 Air India pilot suspended for violating safety norms

Two pilots of SpiceJet, who damaged runway edge lights during landing, and an Air India pilot and cabin crew, who were involved in a physical altercation, have been suspended by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for six months for allegedly violating safety norms of aviation.

The two SpiceJet pilots are Captain Saurabh Gulia and Aarati Gunsekaran who had damaged runway edge lights during landing in Kolkata on July 2. They were operating a B737 aircraft on Pune-Kolkata route.

A DGCA order accessed by ANI said, “The aircraft touched down approximately 1,300 feet from runway threshold point and touched down right of the runway centreline with 7 degrees of roll angle towards right which resulted in the aircraft further veering to the right of the centreline and damaging runway edge lights.”

Both the pilots were served a show-cause notice and DGCA found their replies were not satisfactory.

In the case of Air India flight which was an A319 aircraft operating in the Bengaluru-Kolkata route on June 17, the investigation revealed that the pilot in command Captain Milind and cabin crew Rajat Verman were involved in a heated argument and physical altercation when the aircraft was on the ground during pre-departure phase and preparation for departure was in progress.

Both were served showcause notices and the DGCA found their replies were not satisfactory.

All the four were suspended for six months from the date of the incidents, the order said.

Vistara pilot who issued ‘Fuel Mayday’ call grounded by aviation regulator

New Delhi: Aviation regulator DGCA on Tuesday grounded a pilot who issued a ‘Mayday’ distress call due to low-fuel near Lucknow airport on Monday while operating a Mumbai-Delhi flight.

A senior Vistara official confirmed that the pilot has been “de-rostered” as per the instructions of the regulator.

“The pilot who was operating UK944 flight and issued a ‘Mayday’ call on Monday has been grounded by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA),” a source said.

The source added that the regulator is trying to ascertain the facts regarding this matter and it would soon hold a meeting with the pilots – who were flying the UK944 flight – and the executives of the company.

“The pilot made a ‘Fuel Mayday’ call, which is issued when aircraft starts tapping into its emergency fuel reserves,” another source said.

A Vistara spokesperson said, “Flight UK944 operating Mumbai-Delhi on July 15, 2019, initiated a diversion to Lucknow due to bad weather over Delhi. However, over Lucknow, the visibility suddenly dropped and a safe landing was not possible. The crew then considered alternative airfields, including Kanpur and Prayagraj to land in comparatively better weather condition”.

He said the Lucknow Air Traffic Control then informed the crew that the weather in Lucknow had improved significantly following which the crew decided to return to the city due to better passenger and aircraft support there.

“The unexpected drop in visibility at the destination alternate was the main reason why the aircraft ended up in a low-fuel situation despite carrying excess fuel over and above the required Flight Plan Fuel as per regulations. Safety of passengers and crew was kept at the highest priority throughout the flight,” the spokesperson added.

Pakistan Opens Airspace For All Civilian Traffic; Indian Flights To Operate Soon

New Delhi: Pakistan opened its airspace for all civilian traffic on Tuesday morning, sources said, effectively removing the ban on Indian flights that were not allowed to use majority of its airspace since the Balakot air strikes in February. The move is expected to give a major relief to Air India, which suffered a huge financial loss of around Rs 491 crore as it had to re-route its various international flights due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace. “Pakistan has permitted all airlines to fly through its airspace from around 12.41 am today. Indian airline operators will start using normal routes through Pakistan airspace soon,” the sources told.

Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM) at around 12.41 am Indian Standard Time, stating that “with immediate effect Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic on published ATS (air traffic service) routes”. Pakistan had fully closed its airspace on February 26 after the Indian Air Force (IAF) struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Balakot in retaliation to the Pulwama attack on February 14. Since then, the neighbouring country had only opened two routes, both of them passing through the southern region, of the total 11.

On its part, the IAF had announced on May 31 that all temporary restrictions imposed on the Indian airspace post the Balakot strike had been removed. However, it did not benefit most of the commercial airliners and they were waiting for Pakistan to fully open its airspace.

In India, the biggest pain was suffered by Air India that conducts various international flights from Delhi to Europe and the US. The national carrier had lost Rs 491 crore till July 2 due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace. Private airlines SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir lost Rs 30.73 crore, Rs 25.1 crore and Rs 2.1 crore, respectively, according to the data presented by Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in the Rajya Sabha on July 3.

Post the air strike, Air India had to re-route, merge or suspend many of its international flights that connect India with European and US cities. IndiGo, India’s largest airline by domestic market share, was unable to start direct flights from Delhi to Istanbul due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace. The low-cost carrier started the Delhi-Istanbul flight in March. Till date, this IndiGo flight had to take the longer route over the Arabian Sea and make a stop at Doha in Qatar for refuelling.

Air India pilot suspended for failing pre-flight breathalyser test

The pilot was scheduled to fly to Bengaluru from New Delhi on July 13. Since the flight was full, he was asked to fly in the cockpit as an additional crew member. 

An Air India pilot was suspended for three months after he failed a pre-flight breathalyser test, on Monday.

The pilot was scheduled to fly to Bengaluru from New Delhi on July 13. Since the flight was full, he requested the airline to accomodate him as an additional crew member.

However, he was deplaned after he tested positive for alcohol during the mandatory pre-flight breath-analyser test.

Multiple Safety Lapses On IndiGo, 4 Officials Get Notice: Report


Aviation watchdog DGCA carried out the audit at IndiGo office in Gurgaon

DGCA has given 15 days to the four executives to respond to the notices

IndiGo has around 50 per cent share of the domestic air passenger market

NEW DELHI:  Four senior executives of IndiGo airline were issued show cause notices Friday, 12th July 2019 by the civil aviation watchdog, DGCA, after a special audit team of the aviation regulator found safety lapses, according to sources privy to the development.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) carried out the audit at the IndiGo office in Gurgaon on July 8 and July 9, the sources said.

“Captain Sanjiv Bhalla, the head of training; Captain Hemant Kumar, the chief of flight safety; Captain Ashim Mitra, the senior vice-president – operations; Captain Rakesh Srivastava, the QA (Quality Assurance) and Ops Safety, have been issued show cause notices today,” a source told PTI.

The DGCA is conducting special audit of all airlines and airports which are in monsoon-affected areas in the wake of multiple landing incidents across the country.

The regulator has given 15 days to the four executives to respond to the notices.

In its notice to company’s training chief Sanjiv Bhalla, the regulator said that pilots’ corrective training “was either not carried out or delayed” in number of cases when it was recommended by the Flight Safety and Operations Department of the airline.

The regulator said the department sent these recommendations for corrective training after analyzing the data coming out of Flights Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA).

FOQA is the process of obtaining and analyzing all kinds of data from flights in order to improve the safety and efficiency of flight operations. Whenever a safety parameter limit is exceeded, it is called an “exceedance” or “event”.

The notice to Mr Bhalla said, “The corrective action recommended are inconsistent and not commensurate with the severity of the FOQA events”.

“The corrective training records post failure (unsatisfactory reports) were not maintained in individuals training folder,” the notice added.

The regulator also said that there is no Safety Action Group (SAG) within the training department to discuss and resolve critical safety issues concerning training.

Currently, IndiGo is the leading airline in India as it has around 50 per cent share of the domestic air passenger market.

In the notice issued to Mr Srivastava, who handles Quality Assurance (QA) and Operations Safety of the airline, the DGCA said, “There is substantial delay in counselling/corrective training of the crew involved in FOQA events.”

The regulator added that the pilots involved in such events or exceedances were not made available for corrective training.

In its notice to Mr Srivastava, it said “there was no analysis pertaining to crew involved in repeated exceedances in the last quarter”.

“Guidelines have not been established for deciding the quantum and type of corrective action required to be taken in case of a FOQA event,” the DGCA said in its notices to Mr Srivastava and Mr Mitra. 

To company’s flight safety chief Hemant Kumar, the DGCA said, “There is a lack of supervision on the corrective training and related documentation”.

The regulator added that Mr Kumar’s department did not escalate the issue with the Safety Review Board (SRB) of the airline when pilots – who needed corrective training – were either not made available for such training or if they came for such a training, it was after a delay.

In an airline, the SRB – which is made up of top executives – has to make sure that appropriate resources are provided to achieve the established safety performance.

The airline’s spokesperson told that its senior officials have received four show cause notices from the DGCA and “this is under review by the company”

On July 4, four senior executives of SpiceJet were also issued show cause notices by the DGCA after a special audit team of the aviation regulator found lapses on their part.

DGCA issues show cause notices to Chennai, Ahmedabad airports over safety lapses

The inspection of the airports was done earlier this month by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation

The action comes in the backdrop of multiple aircraft landing incidents at various airports during monsoon season

NEW DELHI: Aviation regulator DGCA Tuesday issued show cause notices to the directors of the Chennai and Ahmedabad airports after it found that some critical areas were not being maintained as per its safety standards, sources said.

The inspection of the airports was done earlier this month by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

“It was found during the inspection that both the airports failed to meet DGCA safety standards in certain areas,” a source told.

G Chandramouli and Manoj Gangal, directors of Chennai and Ahmedabad airports respectively, were issued the show cause notices on Tuesday and the aviation regulator has asked them to respond within 15 days, the sources said.

The action comes in the backdrop of multiple aircraft landing incidents at various airports during monsoon season.

In the notices, the DGCA has stated that “critical parts of the aerodrome required to conduct safe aircraft operations” at both airports “are not being maintained in accordance to the regulator’s requirements”.

The notice issued to Chandramouli stated that non-frangible material such as “concrete slabs, open concrete trench and chambers” were found on the primary runway as well as the secondary runway of the Chennai airport during inspections that were conducted on July 2 and July 3.

“Several large loose stones were found on RESA (Runway End Safety Area)” of both the ends of the primary runway at the Chennai airport, according to the notice.

RESA is a specific area at both the ends of the runway which is kept clean of all non-frangible objects so as to limit consequences if a plane overshoots or undershoots the runway during landing or take off.

The primary runway strip of the Chennai airport also failed the friction test, as per the DGCA notice.

“At a distance of 290 metre-474 metre from the beginning of runway 25, the (average friction) value is below minimum friction value of 0.34 μ” as specified in the DGCA regulations, the notice read.

A value less than 0.34 μ means the runway is slippery for an aircraft to land. Runway 25 is the primary runway of the Chennai airport.

“Several AGL (aeronautical ground lighting) were also found unserviceable during the inspection like, TWY (taxiway) edge lights, obstacle lights provided on all PBBs (passenger boarding bridges), aircraft hangars and over the SMR (surface movement radar),” the notice to the Chennai airport director said.

The notice to the Ahmedabad airport director Gangal said the runway friction test reports for a seven month period — December 2018 to June 2019 — were considered for analysis and it showed “downward trend in friction values below maintenance planning level and at a few locations, it has gone below the minimum level”.

The Ahmedabad airport has one runway and its number is RWY 05/23. It was inspected by the DGCA on July 3 and July 4.

While the Aerodrome Manual mandates that runway friction test should be carried out every month, the DGCA, after analysis of six months of airport runway data, found that this “frequency of friction test is not maintained”.

The notice to Gangal added,”Concrete items, bitumen waste, electrical trenches/main hole, drainage open holes are lying on the runway strip.”

“Runway 05 surface conditions are rough near taxiway B and becoming wet frequently due to ground water seepage,” the notice said.

SpiceJet technician gets stuck in aircraft’s landing gear door at Kolkata airport, dies

MUMBAI: A SpiceJet technician was killed at Kolkata airport after he got stuck in the main landing gear door of an aircraft he was working on. The technician, Rohit Pandey, lost his life in the accident that occurred around 1 am.

“The technician was carrying out maintenance work on the landing gear of a Bombardier Q400 plane belonging to SpiceJet, when the landing door accidentally got closed and he got stuck,” a senior airport official told.Details of how the door accidentally shut is being examined and an investigation is being carried out.

The landing gear door of an aircraft is a mechanism which is supposed to cover the landing gear during a flight. It comprises of three parts – a hydraulic opening system, a gravitational opening system, and a hydraulic closing system.

The aim of the landing gear door is to guarantee both protection of the landing gear, while also maintaining the aerodynamic shape of the aircraft. These doors are located below the aircraft and ensure that the minimum area opens while the landing gear extends out for the aircraft to land safely.

Last week, following a surprise surveillance, DGCA issued four show-cause notices to SpiceJet on poor training standards.

A statement from SpiceJet is awaited.

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