Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Singh best suited for Air India flight safety chief: Directorate General of Civil Aviation; no, say pilots

Air India pilots claim Harpreet Singh has little flying experience, but aviation regulator says she is a trained auditor, fits bill.
Playing down criticism from the aviation industry, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) defended the appointment of Harpreet Singh as Air India's flight safety chief. The airline, faced with objection over Singh being chosen for the key post by its own pilots, backed the decision to appoint her.

Singh, who was Air India's executive director (Customer Relations) before being made the flight safety chief, was chosen over Captain Chetan Prakash, who heads Air India's Airbus fleet operations, for the job by DGCA after an interview.

A top DGCA official, who declined to be named, defended the move. "The prerequisite was that the person be either a pilot or an engineer experienced in carrying out an audit. We have found that Singh fits the bill. Besides being a trained auditor, she is on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) board," he told Mumbai Mirror.

Aviation expert Capt Mohan Ranganathan said, "From what I hear, there are complaints against her for being behind the extended duty time for cabin crew, operating flights with inadequate cabin crew strength, doctoring documents of Air India Express for the ICAO audit, and many other troubleshooting acts."

Among the factors that went in Singh's favor were her qualification as a certified Safety Management System (SMS) trainer, and Chairman-cum-Managing Director Rohit Nandan's backing.

"She seems to have the bosses' confidence and is disliked by all unions. I am surprised DGCA accommodated a CPL holder who has flown nothing other than a Cessna," Ranganathan added.

A senior pilot from the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) said, "We are shocked. It isn't legally possible to appoint her to the post as her flying license must have expired some 30 years ago. We are in the process of ascertaining the facts before announcing our next course of action."

Defending its nomination in a statement, Air India said, "Harpreet A De Singh, executive director, has been approved by the DGCA to be the chief of flight safety of Air India. She has an excellent track record and has been involved in various areas pertaining to safety. She has also been involved with emergency response, accident investigation, human factors, crew resource management (CRM) and has worked in operations and training."

Senior AI officials said that by virtue of being a certified lead auditor for safety, Singh had been involved with auditing and ensuring compliance in all areas of the organization.


NEW DELHI: Air India pilots are up in arms over the airline's decision to appoint its first woman pilot — who joined AI in 1988 but could never fly an aircraft as she failed to clear company medical tests — as the airline's chief of flight safety (CoFS). 

The directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) had last month removed AI's previous CoFS after it was found that he had not kept data records of some flights for six months, as required by law. After his removal, AI was to recommend some experienced pilot or engineer, though airlines almost always nominate their best pilots for the job. 

AI sources say the airline had recommended two candidates to the DGCA, one a 'flying' captain and the woman. 

DGCA selected the latter."The approval shall remain valid for one year or till she remains in the employment of AI ... and subject to her undergoing technical performance course on Boeing 787 type of aircraft," reads the DGCA order clearing her appointment issued on Tuesday. Neither AI nor DGCA offered comments for the story . 

While senior AI pilots are opposing her elevation, saying the job is for active pilots, a former airline CEO said, "The person who has been appointed has a commercial pilot license which means she is a trained pilot, though nonflying, and meets the basic requirement for the job."

After failing the medical tests, the woman got ground jobs in AI and became a ground instructor for pilots.She later became a director in AI and was the in-charge of inflight service and cabin crew.

Meanwhile, the airline's executive pilots have threatened to take action against AI's decision to cut 25% of their pay for failing to have pay parity in the erstwhile AI and Indian Airlines.

Story and comments:

No comments:

Post a Comment