Air India Express accident at Calicut was facilitated by the regulator, how?

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  Air India Airbus Landing at Port Blair (Source Dr Puneet) Blaming the pilots alone for an accident is like addressing the symptom rather than the root cause. The root cause of the Calicut accident of IX1344 on 7th Aug 2020 is the poor safety culture prevalent in India and the ineffective regulatory oversight. This landing(YouTube video) can be categorized as a deliberate attempt to endanger the lives of passengers and crew. This is not the Calicut landing but a landing at another critical airport where most of the year the airport experiences tailwinds. Since the airport has a unidirectional runway ( landing from one direction only), the flight crew has no option but to land in tailwinds. The situation worsens during the monsoons when there is a tailwind and the runway is wet and braking action reduces. Action has not been taken either by the regulator or by the airline safety. Why? What is the role of the regulator? The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is the regulatory

Why Air India Express crash investigation should not be handed over to Accident Investigation Board

 

IX1344 
 
The Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) which reports to the Civil Aviation Ministry has reportedly been handed over the investigation of the Air India Express IX-1344 which met with an accident on 7th Aug 2020. 

Firstly the fact that AAIB reports to the MoCA is a conflict of interest.

Post Air India Express accident at Mangalore in 2010, recommendations of the Court of Inquiry (COI) included setting up of independent civil aviation safety board on the lines of NTSB, USA. The NTSB initially reported to the Department of Transport but later, in order to remove the conflict of interest, was made fully independent and now reports to the Congress.

Additional recommendations were issued post the release of the final report. The Civil aviation ministry released a document an year after Mangalore accident highlighting the completion of work carried out to address the recommendations of the investigation report.

The Kozhikode accident of IX1344 is a grim reminder of the repeat of Mangalore accident and a number of similar safety issues. This clearly points out to the fact that the Directorate General Civil Aviation (DGCA) which is responsible for safety oversight had failed to ensure that the work carried out post Mangalore accident is carried forward in the subsequent years.

There is an urgent need to probe the functioning of the DGCA for its failure to carryout effective oversight despite a planned yearly surveillance and audit programme. The AAIB will not be in a position to carryout an unbiased probe of DGCA and other government bodies due to conflict of interest. Therefore a COI is the only way an unbiased independent investigation is carried out with a wider scope of giving recommendations on effective safety measures in aviation in India.

The same AAIB had carried out the investigation of the Ghatkopar accident. The King Air C90A aircraft crashed into a crowded Mumbai suburb, on her test flight after getting airborne. The accident took place on 28th June 2020 in which 5 innocent people lost their life. The investigation report was released in Dec 2019. The probable cause of the accident has been attributed to the flight crew. However after a reading the report, I found several flaws in the report that made me investigate the cause of the crash in greater detail.

I have produced a 35 page technical analysis of the accident which conclusively proves that the investigation was flawed and there was deliberate effort on the part of the investigators to coverup serious violations of Air Regulations. The report contradicts itself in many areas and key evidence is misrepresented. The independent nature and credibility of the AAIB is under doubt. There are several other investigation reports which lack quality and standards.

Therefore, I have written to the Secretary, MoCA requesting him to order a re-investigation of the accident by means of setting up a court of inquiry to which there has been no response.

The IX-1344 accident is in many ways similar to the Mangalore air crash. India does not have Human Factor experts who can assist in determining the true probable cause. Therefore external help must be sought. A court of inquiry must be ordered by the MoCA for determining the root cause of the accident.
There is a need to establish a safety culture and determine the root cause , not just fix the symptom. 

The statements issued by the officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation & the Director General Civil Aviation in the media on the specifics of the case are leading statements and provide a line of investigation for the AAIB. The investigation process has been provided a direction and therefore AAIB cannot be considered as free from conflict of interest.


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