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Pilot unions demand removal of DGCA chief Arun Kumar


Miffed over the comments by DGCA chief Arun Kumar on the Kozhikode plane crash, two leading pilot unions of Air India have demanded that the DGCA chief must be replaced with a suitable candidate.

The pilot unions have said the selected candidate must have substantial knowledge of the aviation sector and operational experience. They said that Kumar’s comments on news channels reveal an absolute lack of technical know-how and an “amateurish view” of the Kozhikode plane crash.

Kumar’s television interviews

As per the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Union (ICPA) and Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG), Kumar said during one of the televised interviews that the plane’s “landing was not smooth”.

On another news channel, Kumar stated that the “two fellows are dead…and the landing it seems was not appropriate”, according to a letter jointly written by the two unions to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday.

Both pilots died in the crash

Pilot-in-command Captain Deepak Vasant Sathe, 58, and co-pilot Captain Akhilesh Kumar, 32, were the ones operating the Air India Express flight with 190 onboard that overshot the runway and crashed at the Kozhikode airport in Kerala on Friday night.

Both pilots and 16 other people on board died in the accident.

Also Read: SAAC warns of Kozhikode like danger at Surat Airport

Air India Express is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Air India. The two pilots were not part of either of the two aforementioned unions.

What did the unions say?

The unions noted, “Whether a landing technique is appropriate or a contributory factor to a mishap can only be ascertained after a thorough, evidence-backed investigation and not by speculative, casual remarks.”

The above remarks of Kumar on news channels only go to reveal his “total lack of technical knowledge and amateurish view of the unfortunate accident”, the letter noted.

It is an established scientific fact that so-called “smooth” touchdowns may be counterproductive in certain adverse weather conditions and may pose a significant risk to safety, it stated.

Pilots were well-experienced

Puri, when he visited Kozhikode a day after the accident, told reporters that both the pilots were very experienced and “there is absolutely no doubt over their competence”.

Puri said that Sathe, a former wing commander of the Air Force, was one of the most-experienced commanders with more than 10,000 flying hours and had landed aircraft 27 times at the Kozhikode airport.

Akhilesh Kumar had a total flying experience of 1,723 hours.

Demand to replace Arun Kumar

The unions requested Puri that “Arun Kumar IAS is immediately replaced with a suitable candidate with substantial aviation knowledge and operational experience, to serve the country as the Director General of Civil Aviation”.

Air India Express on Tuesday said 74 passengers injured in the plane crash in Kozhikode have been discharged from hospital after “obtaining complete fitness”.


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