Issues strict directives to all carriers on procedures

The Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday issued a set of fresh and strict directives to all carriers, asking pilots to refrain from forced soft landings or leaving the cockpit inadequately manned. The directives come in the wake of last month's crash of an Air India aircraft in Mangalore that killed 158 people.

“Ensure correct landings are aimed by pilots, rather than achieving ‘soft' landings that may compromise the runway-stopping distance required,” the DGCA said in its directives to all aircraft operators.

Preliminary reports after the crash of the Air India's Boeing 737-800 aircraft on May 22 indicated that it could have occurred due to soft landing attempted by the pilot and in the process the plane overshot the touchdown point on the runway.

“A good landing is not one that the passengers perceive as a soft landing, but one that is made at the correct point on the runway with the correct flight parameters,” the DGCA said.

Delayed touchdown

“An attempt to cushion a decent landing to make a soft landing could result in a delayed touchdown that would need harsh deceleration to maintain the aircraft on the runway or even worse a runway excursion with possible catastrophic results,” it said. “If however, for any reasons, the approach is unstable, a go-around is a safer option which affords the pilot another opportunity to conduct a safe approach to land,” it added.

The standard operating procedures required to be followed by all staff for scheduled, charter and general aviation operators also refers to another incident when an Air India Express flight hit an air pocket over Muscat and dropped 5,000 feet when one of the pilots was away from his seat in the cockpit. “At all given times the cockpit has to be manned by minimum crew complement,” said the directive.

“In case one of the crew members has to leave the cockpit during the non-critical phases of flight, the cabin crew is required to be inside the cockpit and occupy the observer seat. In no case the cabin crew will occupy the seats meant for cockpit crew,” it said.

“In case one pilot leaves the flight deck, cabin crew shall be in the flight deck and will occupy one of the observer seats. The cabin crew in the flight deck will remain vigilant in case of subtle incapacitation of the flight deck crew or any other situation that requires assistance,'' the DGCA said.

Safety steps

Other procedures that the crew, including the pilots, have to follow include: prior to opening the flight deck door, the forward galley area should be free of passengers; curtain between the galley and the cabin must be drawn during such times; absence from cockpit should be restricted to the minimum time necessary; flight deck door is locked whilst crew member is absent; forward galley area must remain sterile during the absence from the flight deck; crew member returning to the flight deck should follow the entry request procedure.

Pilot alertness

“The pilot remaining in the cockpit shall wear shoulders harness, and headset and maintain high level of alertness, and situational awareness. He should have an un-obstructed access to the flight controls,” the DGCA said.

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