Consider reinstating pilot who hit airport compound during take off, Madras HC directs Air India

The Madras High Court has directed Air India Express Limited to take an appropriate decision on reinstating in service a pilot who was flying a Dubai-bound passenger flight which damaged the compound wall of the Tiruchi airport and hit the Instrument Landing System (ILS) antenna while taking off on October 11, 2018.

Justice R. Mahadevan issued the direction while disposing of a writ petition filed by the pilot against orders passed by the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation and Director General of Civil Aviation in October 2018 suspending his licence for a period of three years for having flown the plane towards Dubai even after the accident.

The judge agreed with the petitioner’s counsel S. Haja Mohideen Gisthi that the DGCA ought to have issued a show cause notice before suspending the licence. Nevertheless, since the suspension period had already expired, he directed Air India to consider, within four weeks, the pilot’s plea to reinstate him in service.

In his affidavit, the pilot stated that he had an accident-free flying experience of 4,270 hours till October 11, 2018. He was appointed as a Captain at the age of 32 and had an unblemished and impeccable service record without any adverse comments or entries for any indiscipline or irregularity.

On the day of the accident, he was operating the Dubai-Tiruchi-Dubai flight as Pilot in Command. While taking off, his backrest recline had collapsed throwing him out of balance and he immediately handed over the controls to the Pilot Monitoring First Officer until he could regain balance and take the control back.

Claiming that during take off, neither the cockpit crew nor the cabin crew felt anything unusal but for a slight shake of the aircraft which pilots feel at times due to runway conditions and nose wheel rotation, the petitioner said that he continued to fly to Dubai until he was asked to make an emergency landing at Mumbai.

On the other hand, the DGCA told the court that there was nothing wrong with the back recline of the pilot’s seat. It accused him of having failed to monitor the engine thrust during take off roll which led to the plane damanging a very short 8.5 foot compound wall besides hitting the ILS antenna.

“Immediately after the boundary wall, there is a State Highway on which heavy transport vehicles are running. Thus, the aircraft had a providential escape as it might have collided on to the boundary wall or hit a heavy vehicle on the State Highway which is just outside the airport boundary wall,” the DGCA told the court.

It was also brought to the notice of the court that the pilot had put the lives of the passengers and the crew in jeopardy by continuing to fly the plane, instead of landing it back in Tiruchi itself, despite the damage it had suffered.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 9:04:19 AM |

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