The aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, sent a notice to a senior executive of AirAsia India two weeks after one of its pilots, who runs a popular YouTube channel called “Flying Beast” allegedly alleged violations of safety standards by the low-cost airline, senior officials said on Sunday.
“A justification notice was issued to Manish Uppal, chief operating officer, AirAsia India after the pilot’s allegations,” said an official with the DGCA.
An AirAsia India spokesperson said, “AirAsia India confirms receipt of the notice and we are assisting the regulator in its investigation process. We will fully cooperate with the regulator.”
Captain Gaurav Taneja, who runs the YouTube channel, tweeted on June 14 that he had been suspended by AirAsia India “for defending the safe operation of an aircraft and its passengers”. On June 15, he posted a detailed video on YouTube titled “The Reasons for the Suspension of my Pilotage Position”.
Mr. Taneja alleged in the video that the airline asked its pilots to make 98% of the landings in “Flap 3” mode, which saves it fuel. He said that if a pilot does not make 98% of the landings in “tier 3” mode, the airline considers it to be a violation of its standard operating procedure or SOP.
The flaps are part of the wings of an airplane and they are engaged to create a drag during a landing or take-off.
Mr. Taneja gave the example of Imphal airport, where the plane descends faster than other airports when it approaches for landing. He said that when an airplane descends sharply, it must have a drag to keep it slow, and in these circumstances, a pilot must make a “full flap” landing.
“In order to achieve the goals, what would people do? They will make Flap 3 landings regardless of whether it is safe or dangerous. This has a direct impact on passenger safety,” he said. stated in his YouTube video.
If something happens during a Flap 3 landing, the pilot will be asked if he wants to save more fuel or save the lives of 180 passengers, said Taneja.
On June 15, the DGCA declared on Twitter that it had taken note of the concerns expressed by certain stakeholders “against a particular airline and its approach to safety”.
“The DGCA has already opened an investigation into the reported problems and will take appropriate action based on the results of the said investigation,” he added.
On June 15, senior DGCA officials confirmed themselves that AirAsia India was under investigation after Mr. Taneja’s allegations.