AI risked lives of 2L fliers in 2013-14

Prateek Goyal
Sunday, 4 February 2018

Safety jeopardised on Australia-bound flights due to lack of mandatory rest to crew

Pune: Air India, the national airline career, is in the eye of a storm as a metropolitan court in Mumbai has directed the Sahar police station to investigate the matter of endangering the lives of 2,00,000 passengers, who were ferried on 750 flights from Mumbai/Delhi to Australia over a period of one year and three months without providing the mandated horizontal rest to the cabin-crew on those flights.

The order asks to investigate the role of the Flight Safety Department, DGCA Nodal Officer, In-flight service/Customer Service, Commercial Department of Air India for fabricating and forging documents with regard to the flight safety operation on the India-Australia sector.

Air India had started Australia bound flights on Boeing 787 dreamliner in August 2013. It continued the operation for next 15 months without providing the mandated rest to the crew and with RP 25 (risk probability) that is operating flight with the risk factor of 25 times of the permissible limit. Around 750 flights were operated during the period, which ferried approximately 2,00,000 passengers.

According to the documents available with Sakal Times, Air India conducted a hazard risk analysis assessment on the Australia bound flights in January 2014 with passengers on board and without the permission of the DGCA.

The risk analysis conducted by flight safety department and training centre of Air India was illegal in nature as they had conducted it without the permission of DGCA and with passengers on board which could have endangered their lives. As per the assessment report dated May 1, 2014, it was found that the AI was operating flights with 25 risk probabilities which could have led to an untoward incident. 

In the report, the AI cited cabin-crew fatigue with two landings on Australia sector as the reason to conduct the assessment in order to prevent any untoward incident occurring due to cabin crew fatigue. It also mentions that the worst credible effect of cabin crew fatigue could severely compromised the crew alertness and ability to react proactively to emergency situations and can lead to hazardous consequences. 

As per a document available with Sakal Times, Air India was conducting two landings on Australia bound flights at (Delhi- Sydney- Melbourne) without the approval of DGCA.

It is significant to note that as per the DGCA regulation FTDL (Flight Duty and Time Limitation) for the cabin crew operating on Australian sector was maximum of 14 hours of flight time with one take-off and one landing, however, the Air-India crew were doing the flight time of 17 hours with two landings at Sydney and Melbourne which has led to their fatigue.

It is important to note that a fabricated document was issued from the customer services department of Air-India to cabin crew citing the clarifications on two landings during Australia operations. The letter dated October 28, 2014 signed by one Sonam Lepcha, Manager and DGCA Nodal officer- Boeing.

The letter stated that there is no DGCA violation in the operation for Australia with two landings as it is being carried out in consultation with DGCA. It also mentioned that Air India has also informed DGCA that it will carry out a risk assessment data analysis of two landings and will submit it to DGCA. 

However, the letter issued to cabin crew was found to fabricated as a RTI document of DGCA dated 28/09/2015 available with Sakal Times states that DGCA has not given any approval for two landings to Air-India in Australia flights nor its has given any approval to conduct risk assessment.

KVJ Rao, an Air-India cabin crew and a union leader who initially made a complaint to DGCA in June 2014 regarding the cabin crew fatigue due to Australian operations said, “I have been harassed by the airline for notifying the matter to DGCA. However, DGCA also turned a blind eye to it as it is admitted in the numerous RTI replies which reveal that the said DGCA officials were sleeping on the complaints of the said violations. As per official records, around 750 flights were operated in 15 months and around 2,00,000 passengers were ferried on those flights.”

In 2016, Rao had taken the matter to the court of chief metropolitan magistrate court, Andheri. After hearing the matter for around two years, the court has ordered an investigation into the matter and asked the Sahar police to submit a report after conducting an enquiry in the matter.

No mandated rest to the crew
Air India had started Australia bound flights on Boeing 787 dreamliner in August 2013. It continued the operation for next 15 months without providing the mandated rest to the crew and with RP 25 (risk probability) that is operating flight with the risk factor of 25 times of the permissible limit. Around 750 flights were operated during the period, which ferried approximately 2,00,000 passengers.
 

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