New Delhi: Civil Aviation authorities have advised Air India to ensure that pilots and co-pilots with a wide age gap are not paired together. This direction comes 18 months after an Air India Express flight IX 452 plying from Abu Dhabi to Kochi with 102 passengers, ended up in an open drain after landing in heavy rains.
The accident that occured on September 2, 2017, left three passengers with injuries and seriously damaged the aircraft. The front landing gear was severely damaged in the accident.
At the time, the poor weather was blamed for the accident, but an investigation into the issue has now revealed that another reason was that the senior male pilot, who was 30 years older to his female co-pilot, refused to take her suggestions or warnings during landing.
One of the probable causes for the accident, according to a Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), was the poor judgement taken by the PIC ( Pilot-In-Command).
The co-pilot reportedly informed her senior that she was unable to see the runway markings and asked him to go extremely slow. She also adviced that a “follow-me” vehicle, which is used to guide aircraft in cases of low visibility, be arranged. However, there was no response from the pilot-in-charge.
In an unprecedented turn of events, the aircraft took a 90m early turn before the taxiway and entered into open rainwater drain.
“There is not just one reason behind an accident. Heavy rain and reduced visibility were contributory factors,” he was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
“The PIC applied the throttle three times for the aircraft to come out of the drain, but it was. The co-pilot had also requested the PIC not to apply throttle,” HT quoted the DGCA report as saying.
The DGCA also highlighted that besides an age gap of 30 years, there was also a difference of 13,000 hours in the flight experience between the two pilots.
There was a complete lack of coordination from the PIC’s side, who, the report stated, was tested alcohol positive twice and his licence was suspended by the DGCA for three months.
The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) has now recommended that Air India Express issue a circular related to crew coordination.
Experts suggest that crew management training sessions undertaken by airlines include how to tackle problems that may arise from a large gap in age or experience.
An Air India Express spokesperson told HT that the recommendations of the report will be implemented. “Out of the 10 safety recommendations, two relate to Air India Express and these shall be duly implemented,” said a corporate communications officer at Air India Express.