Air India co-pilot seeks relief from PM Modi

Under a cloud: The co-pilot was involved in a runway incursion at Mumbai airport on September 16.

Under a cloud: The co-pilot was involved in a runway incursion at Mumbai airport on September 16.   | Photo Credit: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

Woman alleges unfair treatment and harassment by DGCA

An Air India (AI) woman co-pilot has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging unfair treatment and harassment by aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The co-pilot was involved in a runway incursion at Mumbai on September 16 and a written explanation was sought by November 30. While she remains grounded, pending investigation, the commander (incidentally, an examiner and deputy director at AI’s central training establishment in Hyderabad) of the same flight has been allowed to fly even before the co-pilot could reply to her show-cause notice.

On the day of the incident, the aircraft, operating flight AI-669 from Mumbai to Bhubaneshwar, entered the active runway of Mumbai airport around 2.30 p.m. while taxiing to the runway end for take-off. Due to the runway incursion, an incoming flight that was about to touch down had to do a last minute go-around. The AI aircraft took off to its destination, with the crew being grounded after operating the return flight.

In her letter to Mr. Modi dated November 25, she said two enquiries were held at DGCA’s regional office on September 26 and 30.

“Subsequently, I was issued a show-cause notice by the DGCA office in Delhi dated November 15 (received on November 18) asking me to submit my responses latest by November 30. To my surprise the commander, who was involved in the same incident as me, has not only been cleared to fly, but has also been allowed to exercises his privileges as an examiner. The DGCA has presumed that I am at fault and the captain has been absolved of all responsibility in the said incident. This is against principles of natural justice,” the co-pilot wrote.

She also said that the commander had 30 years of flying experience, unlike her experience of two years and was more familiar with the layout of Mumbai airport. “Yet the entire blame has been laid on me, the co-pilot, rendering the title ‘Pilot in Command’ meaningless,” the co-pilot wrote.

The letter to Mr. Modi also mentions that in the case of two recent runway incursions, involving another airline, the captains were suspended for a period of three months by the DGCA.

“Only in this case has the captain been absolved of all the blame even before the co-pilot has submitted the response to the show-cause,” the co-pilot said in her letter. She said she was seeking the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office because the commander is set to retire on November 30.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 7:40:27 AM |

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