DGCA issues showcause to Air Asia India over allegations of safety norms violations by pilot

Days after Air Asia pilot Gaurav Taneja (now suspended), who runs a popular YouTube channel called ‘Flying Beast’, alleged violations of safety norms by the low-cost airliner, the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Sunday issued a showcause notice to the airliner over the allegations. The showcause is learnt to have been issued to the airline’s head of flight operations and safety.

“A show-cause notice has been issued to Manish Uppal, Head of Operations, AirAsia India after the pilot’s allegations,” the DGCA officials 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.” a spokesperson of the low-cost airliner said.

The suspended pilot who flagged the violations of safety norms by the airliner also took to Twitter and said: “For all those who are standing by me – #DGCA has sent Show cause notice to @mauppa @AirAsiaIndian for serious public safety concerns raised by me. All I want is a FAIR INVESTIGATION @DGCAIndia.”

Recently, Gaurav Taneja, who worked with Air Asia as a first officer, had flagged safety concerns with the DGCA, post which the aviation regulator had started investigating into the allegations.

“DGCA has 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,” DGCA had tweeted on June 15.

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”.

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).

Flaps are part of wings of an aircraft and they are engaged to create a drag during a landing or a take-off.

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, Taneja said.

“Safety lapses are a serious concern at Air Asia,” Taneja had tweeted to the aviation minister,

However, an AirAsia India spokesperson had said: “AirAsia India stands firmly on its value of ‘Safety Always’. The safety of our guests is of paramount importance in every aspect of our operations. AirAsia India is cognizant of the matter in regard to a social media post put up by one of its employees.”

“We are cooperating with the DGCA on this matter. As a policy, AirAsia India does not comment on matters pertaining to its business or employees,” the spokesperson had said.

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