New Delhi: Two weeks after one of its pilots, Gaurav Taneja, alleged violation of safety norms by the low-cost airline, AirAsia is understood to have fired him.
Taneja, who also runs a popular YouTube channel called Flying Beast, had alleged in a video that the airline asked its pilots to do 98% of landings in “Flap 3” mode, which allows it to save fuel but compromises passenger safety.
On June 14, Taneja had tweeted that he had been suspended by the airline “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”.
According to Moneycontrol, he was fired subsequently on June 26.
However, PTI reported on Sunday that aviation regulator the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has taken cognisance of his video and sent a show cause notice to the airline’s India Head of Operations Manish Uppal.
The DGCA on June 15 had first spoken about the issue when tweeted that it had “taken note of the concerns raised by some stakeholders against a particular Airline and its approach to safety”.
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 (@DGCAIndia) June 15, 2020
Sources have claimed that Taneja was terminated on the basis of “violations”, after the DGCA took notice of the issue. The violations pertain to not appearing for an investigation started by the airline, going public on social media without following the due company process of redressal, breach of non-disclosure agreement and photography in the cockpit in breach of company and DGCA norms,” a senior executive from the industry told Moneycontrol.
Another executive, however, said, Taneja was being investigated by the airline for over a year, and was eventually suspended for dereliction of duty. “There were also allegations that he reported sick, but instead went for social commitments,” the executive said, adding that he did not approach the company’s redressal mechanism, and instead went public with his grievances.
Allegations against AirAsia
Taneja had claimed if a pilot does not do 98% 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. He 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.
While the AirAsia spokesperson refused to speak to Moneycontrol, a senior pilot told the news platform that “some of the concerns raised by Taneja are relevant”, while “some may not be.”
(With PTI Inputs)