Aviation regulator DGCA has suspended two senior executives of AirAsia India for a period of three months over “safety violations”, news agency PTI quoted a senior official as saying. Captain Manish Uppal, Head of Operations, and Captain Mukesh Neema, Head of Flight Safety, were suspended last week.
“We had issued a show cause notice to two AirAsia India executives — Head of Operations Manish Uppal and Head of Flight Safety Mukesh Nema — in June only. It has been decided now to suspend them for a period of three months,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) official said.
The airline came under the scanner after one of its pilots, who runs a popular YouTube channel called Flying Beast, alleged violations of safety norms by the low-cost carrier. Captain Gaurav Taneja, a popular Youtuber, tweeted on June 14 that he has been suspended by AirAsia India “for standing up for safe operations of an aircraft and its passengers”. On June 15, he posted a detailed video on YouTube titled “Reasons behind suspension from my pilot job”.
On the suspension of the two executives, Taneja tweeted, “Capt Manish Uppal and Mukesh Neema from @AirAsiaIndian are suspended by @DGCAIndia for safety violations and risking people lives for profits. All the “safety experts” who were acting as PR agents of @AirAsiaIndian , you are caught with your pants down.”
Taneja alleged in the video that the airline has asked its pilots to do 98 per cent of landings in “Flap 3” mode, which allows it to save fuel. He said if a pilot does not do 98 per cent of landings in “Flap 3” mode, the airline considers it a violation of its standard operating procedure (SOP).
Taneja gave the example of the Imphal airport, where the plane descends more steeply as compared to other airports when approaching for landing. He said when an aircraft is coming down steeply, it needs to have a drag so that it remains slow, and in these circumstances a pilot has to do a “Flap full” landing.
“In order to achieve targets, what would people do? They will do Flap 3 landings without giving consideration whether it is safe or unsafe. This directly impacts the passenger safety,” he had claimed in his YouTube video. “If something happens during a Flap 3 landing, then the question would be asked to the pilot if he or she cares more about saving fuel or 180 passengers” lives, Taneja had said.
(With inputs from PTI)
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