MUMBAI: Two AirAsia India officials —
Capt Manish Uppal
, head of operations, and
Capt Mukesh Nema
, head of air safety — have been suspended for a period of three months by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for alleged safety violations.
Director general of civil aviation Arun Kumar confirmed the development. Under the regulator’s norms, appointments to crucial posts like head of air safety and head of operations at airlines are cleared by DGCA.
In June, DGCA had initiated a probe against AirAsia India after one of its pilots, Captain Gaurav Taneja, uploaded a video on social media alleging that
had to forgo the subsequent weekly leave and the policy could have fatigued pilots at the flight controls. The second issue was the airline’s alleged push for “flap 3”
, which resulted in fuel savings. But on runways like Imphal, a flap 3 landing in tailwind condition is unsafe, he said, adding that he was suspended by the airline for flagging such issues.
DGCA began a probe and on June 29 and issued a show-cause notice to Capt Uppal, Capt Nema and the CEO of the airline. Prior to that, on June 26, Capt Taneja was terminated by the airline.
In a statement, AirAsia India said that it “has complied with the directions of the regulator and appointed interim post holders in accordance with the regulator’s directions. As an airline that prioritises safety above all, we continue to engage with the authorities and exercise the option to appeal for redressal.”
Advocate Yeshwant Shenoy, one of Capt Taneja’s lawyers, said, “Pilots are always afraid to raise issues, especially in these times of job insecurities due to the pandemic’s impact on the airline industry. Had pilots stood up for safety issues, the Calicut crash could certainly have been avoided.” Capt Taneja’s spokesperson said, “It is a clear win for a whistleblower against a big organisation.’’
AirAsia pilot Capt Taneja had in June put out a clip on social media about the airline’s push for ‘flap-3’ landings that resulted in fuel savings. On runways like Imphal, such landings are unsafe