Muscat: A senior Air India (AI) pilot allegedly violated safety rules by operating three back-to-back flights, including a Mumbai–Muscat flight (AI985), on January 12 and exceeded the work hours specified for the cockpit crew, Indian media reported.
Quoting sources, the media reported that Captain MP Sharma, a former general manager of AI's flight operations department in the city, had operated the flights at the behest of a senior management official.
According to the roster, Sharma had been assigned to operate flight AI659 from Delhi to Mumbai. But after he reached the city, he was asked to operate a Mumbai–Muscat flight (AI985) because its pilot had reported sick and it had been delayed by
The flight duty timing rules laid down by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) allow flight-crew personnel to refuse duty if their work hours exceed the limit it has set.
However, Sharma operated the Mumbai–Muscat flight and flew it back to the city.
This violates two DGCA civil-aviation requirements. First, a two-pilot crew is allowed a maximum of two landings at night; Sharma did three. Secondly, a pilot is allowed a maximum duty time of 12 hours a day; this was exceeded by three hours.
The incident reflects the trend of poor crew scheduling by India's national carrier. Last month, there were at least two similar instances, where the lack of spare pilots had led to huge delays or last-minute cancellations.
On January 2, 260 passengers booked to travel to Singapore were stranded when the flight was cancelled because the pilot assigned to operate that flight had been suspended the previous day and the airline had not found a replacement. The incident had prompted the Civil Aviation Ministry to suspend a senior airline official.