Chennai

Pilot moves HC challenging suspension of flying licence

Captain D. Ganeshbabu, the Pilot Flying (PF) of Air India IX 611, which was damaged after hitting a boundary wall at the Tiruchi airport while taking off to Dubai on October 11 and yet was airborne for over two hours with 136 passengers, has filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court challenging the suspension of his pilot licence for a period of three years.

Justice R.M.T. Teekaa Raman agreed to hear the case on Thursday after the petitioner’s counsel Haja Mohideen Gisthi brought it to the notice of the court that the pilot had been punished for no fault of his and that he should be ordered to be reinstated in service with all financial and other attendant service benefits which he would be entitled to in the normal course.

In his affidavit, Mr. Ganeshbabu, now 33, said he had been appointed as a Captain at a young age of 32 thereby earning the respect of his seniors and colleagues and that he had accident-free flying experience of 4,270 hours as on October 11. On that day, he had operated IX 611 along with First Officer Captain Anuraag who was the Pilot Monitoring (PM).

When the aircraft was close to 110 knots true airspeed (KTAS) on the runway, the petitioner’s backrest collapsed, throwing him out of balance. “Both my left and right hands were up in the air. I immediately transferred the controls to the PM by calling ‘you have controls’ and he acknowledged by calling out that he had the controls,” the petitioner said.

After regaining balance and adjusting the backrest of his seat, the petitioner looked out and realised that only 2,000 feet of the runaway was left. Hence, he immediately took control of the aircraft and resumed his duties. During take off, he felt a slight shake which pilots usually feel due to runway surface conditions or rotation of the nosewheel.

“No abnormal vibration or unusual noise was felt or heard,” he asserted and claimed that even the cabin crew confirmed that none of the passengers complained about any abnormal experience. It was only close to two hours in the flight that the cockpit crew received information from the Air Traffic Control (ATC) about damage to the compound wall and an antenna.

However, the cockpit crew decided to continue the flight since everything appeared to be normal and they did not suspect any damage to the aircraft. Though the closest airport at that point of time was the one at Muscat, they received instructions to make a precautionary landing at Mumbai and the pilots did so after checking availability of fuel, he said.

Stating that the entire incident had occurred due to backrest recline collapse during takeoff roll, the petitioner said he had regained balance and took off the aircraft at the right moment, failing which it would have led to a catastrophic accident. “The petitioner did his best in a situation where he had neither prior experience nor was he trained to handle such situations in a simulator,” he added.


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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 2:35:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/pilot-moves-hc-challenging-suspension-of-flying-licence/article27211844.ece

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