Pilots want DGCA chief sacked after Air India Express crash
August 12 2020 12:51 AM
Deepak Sathe's funeral
Wife of Air India Express pilot Deepak Sathe places flowers on his coffin during his funeral in Mumbai yesterday. Sathe and 17 others died in the plane crash in Kerala on Friday.

IANS/New Delhi

Two major pilot associations have sought the immediate replacement of the chief of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) following the deadly Kozhikode air crash.
They have demanded that Arun Kumar be immediately replaced with a suitable candidate with substantial aviation knowledge and operational experience.
In a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri, Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) and Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) said that Kumar, in a nationally televised interview moments after the catastrophic accident of Air India Express Flight No IX 1344 in Kozhikode, referred to the deceased pilots as “fellows” and also said “...and the landing it seems was not appropriate...”
“Not only was the reference to the deceased individuals by such a senior officer of the government of India as ‘fellows’ highly inappropriate and distasteful but completely in violation of international norms and protocols that are required to be followed by regulatory agencies”, the pilots said.
In another interview, he reportedly remarked “the landing was not smooth,” the pilots said, adding these remarks only reveal his total lack of technical knowledge and amateurish view of the unfortunate accident.
It is an established scientific fact that the so-called “smooth” touchdowns may be counterproductive in certain adverse weather conditions and may pose a significant risk to safety, they said.
Whether a landing technique is appropriate or a contributory factor to an accident can only be confirmed after a thorough, evidence-backed investigation and not by speculative and casual remarks, they added.
“As you may be aware, ‘Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation’ of which India is a signatory, is the binding document to be followed during an accident investigation and it states that the sole objective of the investigation of an accident shall be the prevention of accidents and incidents and the purpose is not to apportion blame or liability”, they added.
The associations said the DGCA’s comments have “made us the laughing stock of the aviation world”.
“The DGCA’s hasty comments on TV clearly appeared to be biased, unprofessional, premature and presumptive -without even considering the need to conclude any technical analysis of the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR), Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and other verifiable sources - and have tragically made us the laughing stock of the aviation world”, the pilots said.
“Just as the head of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board cannot be a veterinary scientist and nor can the head of Medical Council of India be a mathematician - no matter how academically qualified or senior that person may be -every technically sensitive department with public safety ramifications requires a domain expert. The DGCA of India, therefore, stands out as an aberration and embarrassment before the international aviation community”, they added.
The pilots allege that DGCA is trying to sway public opinion.
“It is shocking that the very person in our country who is entrusted with the job of ensuring that all agencies in the country act professionally and adhere to international treaties, regulations and conventions on civil aviation such as Annex 13, has violated the very basic principle of accident investigation. By his irresponsible remarks it is obvious that he is trying to sway public opinion, as well as the outcome of the investigation towards a direction that suits his office.”

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