The aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation has issued notice to a top executive of AirAsia India two weeks after one of its pilots, who runs a popular YouTube channel called “Flying Beast”, alleged violations of safety norms by the low-cost airline, senior officials said on Sunday. “A show cause notice has been issued to Manish Uppal, Head of Operations, AirAsia India after the pilot’s allegations,” a DGCA official said.
An AirAsia India spokesperson said, “AirAsia India confirms receipt of the notice and we are assisting the regulator in its fact finding process. We will fully cooperate with the regulator.”
Captain Gaurav Taneja, who runs the YouTube channel, 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”.
Mr 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 or SOP.
Flaps are part of wings of an aircraft and they are engaged to create a drag during a landing or a take-off.
Mr 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 said 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, Mr Taneja said.
On June 15, the DGCA said on Twitter that it had taken note of the concerns raised by some stakeholders “against a particular airline and its approach to safety”.
“DGCA has already started an investigation into the issues flagged and shall take appropriate action based on the outcome of the said investigation,” it added.
Senior DGCA officials had confirmed on June 15 itself that AirAsia India was under investigation after Mr Taneja’s allegations.