The two associations have also accused the DGCA of diluting safety regulations, thereby compromising on air safety standards
The news comes close on the heels of an airplane crash on August 10 when an Air India Express plane skid off the runway while landing in Kozhikode and split into two
New Delhi: Two pilots’ associations have demanded that the chief of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Arun Kumar be replaced with a suitable candidate with knowledge of the aviation sector. The news comes close on the heels of an airplane crash in Kozhikode in Kerala on August 10 when an Air India Express plane, carrying 191 passengers, skid off the runway while landing and split into two. The two pilot associations have expressed shock over the statements made by the DGCA chief on national TV in the aftermath of the crash.
According to the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) and Indian Pilots’ Guild, Kumar said during one of the interviews that the plane’s “landing was not smooth.”
What is the issue raised by the unions?
While remarking that the remarks made by Kumar reveal his total lack of technical knowledge, the two associations have said that the statement presents an amateurish view of the unfortunate accident.
“It is an established scientific fact that so-called ‘smooth’ touchdowns may be counterproductive in certain adverse weather conditions and may pose significant risk to safety. Whether a landing technique is appropriate or a contributory factor to a mishap can only be ascertained after a thorough, evidence-backed investigation and not by speculative, casual remarks,” the two unions said in a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.
“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 source, and have tragically made us the laughing stock of the aviation world... 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,” the letter added.
Pilots’ associations contend DGCA has diluted safety regulations
The two associations have also accused the DGCA of diluting safety regulations, thereby compromising on air safety standards. “Air accidents never occur because of one single cause or factor. They are always the unfortunate by-product of systemic failures such as poor infrastructure, inadequate regulatory oversight and often, wilful negligence. For example, the DGCA has continuously diluted safety regulations such as Flight Duty Time Limitations which are meant to reduce fatigue induced accidents, just to suit airline operators,” the letter said.
Unions do not want an IAS to be appointed as DGCA chief
“We, therefore, as a body of professional aviators, have lost complete faith and confidence in Mr Arun Kumar and thus, demand that he be replaced with immediate effect... We would also like to point out the futility of routinely appointing career bureaucrats picked from their parent cadre, as the head of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. It is a highly specialized and technical field beyond the comprehension of non-specialists. Civil Aviation requires a domain expert to understand the complexities and technicalities involved. May we request that this issue concerning public safety is accorded the highest priority and Shri Arun Kumar, IAS, is immediately replaced with a suitable candidate with substantial aviation knowledge and operational experience, to serve the country as the Director General of Civil Aviation,” said the letter.
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