Pilots association wants Praful Patel to resign

In the wake of Saturday's crash of Air India flight XI 812 at Mangalore, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) has demanded that Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and AI Chairman and Managing Director Arvind Jadhav “own moral responsibility for the accident and submit their resignations immediately.”

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the ICPA, which represents around 560 pilots who fly AI's domestic and nearby country routes, has sought his “urgent intervention” so that tragedies of this sort can be avoided.

The ICPA, even while acknowledging that the exact reason for the crash can be known only after an analysis of the cockpit voice recorder and the digital flight data recorder, and after investigations are completed, says this was a tragedy waiting to happen for lack of professionalism and accountability in the managing of the national carrier.

The association has called on Dr. Singh to appoint a committee of the highest level “with independent safety experts to investigate the lapses in safety, fatigue prevention and training [of pilots] in AI and to fix accountability.”

‘No scientific basis'

Another major area of concern are the rules governing rest periods for pilots. Declaring that 78 per cent of fatal crashes are caused by human error and a majority of them due to pilot fatigue, the ICPA has said the Flight and Duty Time Limitations (FDTL) followed in India have no scientific basis, having been formulated way back in 1992 when air operations were on a much smaller scale.

The ICPA, along with the Indian Pilots' Guild that represents pilots flying AI's international routes, has once again questioned AI's practice of hiring foreign pilots. These pilots are not directly employed by the airline but are engaged through certain hiring agencies, it has pointed out.

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