Air safety on a prayer

New Delhi, October 17, 2018: Air safety is increasingly being imperiled by the recklessness of pilots or crew, or even ground staff. In August, a Jet Airways flight went off the runway at Riyadh airport. The licences of the pilots were suspended. In September, over 30 passengers experienced bleeding after the pilots ‘forgot’ to turn on a switch to regulate cabin pressure. The crew was taken off duty pending investigation.

Jet Airways fired its pilots for a cockpit fight in January, and in March, two pilots were asked to quit after they turned up stoned to operate flights. In July, mid-air collision between two IndiGo aircraft was averted, while in April, a window panel came off an Air India (AI) aircraft during turbulence. The latest is a Dubai-bound AI plane hitting a perimeter wall during takeoff! The pilots have been derostered, for now according to aviationindia.net.

Without exception, airlines are grappling with a range of issues: delayed salaries (early last month, Jet Airways pilots warned of ‘non-cooperation’), poor returns, overworked pilots or their shortage. A section of AI pilots had threatened to strike work over unpaid dues. The Delhi High Court has sought from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) the latest position regarding air safety, recruitment of inspectors and investigation into accidents. The sector is under the weather and needs a potent antidote. The DGCA should incorporate wellness capsules into the high-stress schedule of employees, particularly pilots. Every plane needs a provision for feedback, which must be taken seriously by way of detailed action.

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