Aviation authorities have advised Air India Express to minimise the age gap between pilots. They opined that having a wide age gap could affect the decisions to be taken and co-pilots should be paired in a way that could avoid accidents.

Over 18 months ago, an Air India Express flight from Abu Dhabi to Kochi had to end up in an open drain following a quick landing decision due to heavy rains with 102 passengers and the reason might shock you! According to reports, a senior male pilot, who was 30 years older to his female co-pilot, was in disagreement with her about the procedure and whatnot. He refused to take any of her suggestions or warnings and landed in an open drain. The incident which took place back in September 4, 2017, left three passengers injured. At the time, the poor weather was blamed for the accident, but now an investigation has revealed otherwise, Hindustan Times reported.

Now, authorities are ensuring that the age gap between pilots is not wide so that they can come to an agreement and take joint decisions.

Now, authorities are ensuring that the age gap between pilots is not wide so that they can come to an agreement and take joint decisions.

The aircraft had sustained serious damage that time, and also the front landing gear had collapsed during landing.

“There is not just one reason behind an accident. In the report, we tried to go to the exact details and found that probable cause of accident was incorrect judgement taken by PIC (pilot-in-command). Heavy rain and reduced visibility were contributory factors,” said a Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) official, who asked not to be named, Hindustan Times reported.

According to the report, the co-pilot told her senior to go extremely slow since she could not see runway markings and insisted that a “follow-me” vehicle — used to guide aircraft in cases of low visibility — be summoned.

“However, there was no response from PIC. At 2112 UTC, the aircraft took a 90m early turn before the Taxiway ‘F’… and entered into open rain water drain. PIC applied throttle three times for aircraft to come out of the drain, but aircraft stuck in the drain. Co-pilot requested PIC not to apply throttle,” said the report by DGCA.

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There was an age gap of over 30 years, hence, the disagreements, according to the report by the DGCA.

There was an age gap of over 30 years, hence, the disagreements, according to the report by the DGCA.

“…The coordination was lacking from PIC’s side. PIC was found alcohol-positive twice and his licence was suspended by DGCA for 3 months from 09.01.2016. The pilot had operated previous flight a day before and as per his statement, he reached hotel around midnight and was not able to sleep. In cockpit voice recorder, there is noise of PIC yawning in the flight,” the report points out.

The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) has now recommended that Air India Express should issue a circular related to crew coordination. The aim here is to analysis that both PIC and co-pilot are operating together without difference of opinion.

According to experts, crew management trainings mandate for airlines to include how to tackle problems that can arise from wide differences of age and experience between flight crew.

According to experts, crew management trainings mandate for airlines to include how to tackle problems that can arise from wide differences of age and experience between flight crew. “The airline is supposed to minimise the age gap between pilot and co-pilot and if pilot is not listening to the co-pilot, irrespective of the age gap, then it shows lack of training and also inefficiency of DGCA which must conduct an audit to find these loopholes,” said Mohan Ranganathan, an aviation safety expert.

Now, according to an Air India Express spokesperson, the airline has taken the recommendations seriously and is planning to have it implemented as soon as possible. “Our top management has taken note of the recommendations made by AAIB regarding the incident involving aircraft VT-AYB at Cochin International Airport on 04.09.2017. AAIB has made safety recommendations which are to be implemented by various agencies including DGCA, Cochin International Airport Limited, AAI and Air India Express. Out of the 10 safety recommendations, two relate to Air India Express and these shall be duly implemented,” said PG Prageesh, chief of corporate communications, Air India Express.

Feature Image Credit: Media India Group

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