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Air India Near Death Incident

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Air India Near Death Incident

Old 13th Oct 2010, 21:09
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In a near death experience one sees quick flashes of one's past...I wonder if pent up yens for grandeur form part of those flashes.
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Old 13th Oct 2010, 21:20
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I have done many departures from Delhi. From RWY 29 the ATC normally does not give a SID. The normal clearance is always to climb to 2600 feet on QNH. Never , ever have I been given or heard from others any clearance lower than 2600( The MSA at VIDP).
Likewise...Don't claim to be an expert but have never had or heard any clearance to level at 1700'...

Both accounts have the 'hero' having to 'unstrap himself' to save the day and have the distinct whiff of Bombay Duck about them...
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Old 13th Oct 2010, 21:50
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Jstars2... thanks for sharing all this sad and scary info... I believe every word you wrote! I too have been subjected to such BS and dealdy culture before during my expat adventures... sadly, silence fell upon my reporting and I resigned after watching another check airman hang for releasing a local Commander who damaged a 767 during taxi out in JoBurg... the local bananas needed somebody to hang so they went after the expat check Commander who released the banana a year or so before the incident... I find the Indian culture is unable to apply any real SMS or CRM principles to good effect....
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Old 13th Oct 2010, 22:26
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It will never change so just get out out of there if you fly there and get on with your career where you can have a safe future.
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Old 14th Oct 2010, 07:02
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Top Tup, I flew my single seater, supersonic jet with less hours than these 777 F/Os. Should I have stayed home?
I have done plenty of base flights on W/Bs with F/Os having less than 80 hours total stick time. Should I have refused?
The average TT of captains that I have terminated is well above 10.000 hrs. Should they have passed because they were so experienced?
I have pink slipped pilots from 1. world flag carriers. Was that wrong?

I do agree with you that the foundation for taking adequate decisions is lacking in India. It is too easy to buy a rating and call yourself "Captain", but there are actually guys and gals here who want to improve (far from all of them) but the entire system has abandoned them with a "monkey see, monkey do" culture. And since it seems you do not have much world aviation experience I can inform you that the "acceptable standard" areas of the world are few and far apart.
Have you refused to fly to the other areas because they were not of SYD or FRA standard? Why not? And did you forget to do your homework before coming to India?

Donīt you think the factory pilots report home about concerns and standards? That goes with the job, and as I read you, the factories should refuse selling to the 3rd world. So, have you approached Boing and Airbus with your valuable informations or are you just whining here on PPRUNE?

Although we are in total agreement on a lot of things, the difference between you and I is, that I am not putting my tail between the legs. Against all odds, I try to make a difference in India, China, Africa, S. America and all the other places that you want to eradicate from the aviation map. I may not succeed, and my job in on the line on a daily basis, but donīt call me an idiot..

The days when only BOAC and Pan Am could fly to Bongoland are over, my friend. We may not like that, but a lot of fellow pilots will.
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Old 14th Oct 2010, 10:31
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A recently received copy of the second broadcast email generated by the expat captain involved, soliciting advice from his colleagues:

I am still pondering the options. I have filed a NASA form here in the US to cover my license (even though I wasn’t flying). Is there something in the Air India SOP that requires me to submit anything? Since I was not at the controls I could not find any requirement.

I called the Indian Captain and told him to send me his version so that I know what is being said, just in case I get called (by AI Safety Dept). His version was believable. If they pull the data, he is going to jail with the story he sent me. No relation to the truth! There is no way I will support his version. I will just plead the Indian 5th Amendment and hope they go away. No way I can win any points in this one.
Interesting to note the scepticism of the armchair psychologists flushed out on this thread. Even Air India and DGCA know the incident happened. The problem (amongst many others) is that neither body will publicly admit the incident and set about the required root and branch change required of both organisations to prevent (as far as possible) future such incidents and possible accidents (many of which, I can assure all readers, are just itching to happen).

Last edited by jstars2; 14th Oct 2010 at 10:45.
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Old 14th Oct 2010, 11:56
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The point of this incident and discussions seems lost to some.

It IS NOT that this said incident occurred, it is what has and continues to happen following it: nothing but lies and reports covered up, mishandled and forgotten about. The SYSTEM fails the pilots in training and traveling public. Some seem to believe that that is OK.

As a 777 TRE I took on a contract at AI. Granted I went in somewhat naive, believing that ICAO Cat 1 standards were just that. Sure, I can write an endless diatribe of stupidity & arrogance in the US or Europe where pilots & operators screwed up, but that type of culture was squashed if not immediately then very damn soon. Having a manhood contest on who's worked under the worst or lowest standards doesn't and should be something to be proud of.

Masquerading as a self-believing world leader in aviation (as all too many AI pilots and officials believe - yeah go figure. Evidence: personal word of mouth experience) covering up such on-going and cancerous issues is not only dangerous but criminally negligent in my opinion. I didn't turn tail, and to say so is a slur at the extreme. I left with my progressional integrity in tact by refusing to bow down to aggressive demands to pass a Capt whom I failed for being unable to land a 777 on raw data with 15 kt xwind - that was the final straw.

We all know that hours do not always constitute ability, but it is an indicator. I have flown with kids with 500 hrs whom were just amazing and a privilege to share a cockpit with, and others with 15000 hrs who should not be allowed to fly a kite. What Capt Turbo is missing here is THE SYSTEM at AI that develops, trains and continues to train its pilots. When experience through hours cannot be obtained it must be replaced by TRAINING. And, any experience bought to the table should be nurtured, moulded and improved upon. All evidence on this and other forums about AI points in ONE firm direction. It seems the majority of pilots with experience at AI believe the same. Asking if I would refuse to fly with a pilot of 80 hours is ridiculous! But, if what I see is not to standard then my hands are tied by the job I undertook. I will not cower down to a corrupt system and dangerous standard under the guise of "well it is what it is in these parts of the world."

For the record, official reports by me were submitted to AI, DGCA, FAA and emails swapped with Boeing. And what has the system done?

Whining on pprune? Pot calling who what? I was approached by some journos recently. I wanted to see what their real motivating factor was as to the evidence and experiences I had to offer and they wanted regarding AI. I told them separately I would consider offering my knowledge & evidence only if presented in the professional investigative reporting as per the Colgan Air Flt 3407 accident documentry. As predicted when the Mangalore crash was no longer of interest so too was the level of want to uncover the truth.

That's me signing off here. We're starting to get off the topic and onto "who's is bigger". I know what I witnessed, what I experienced and why I left that disgrace. Not saying my decision was the right one for everyone, but it was for me and my integrity.
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Old 14th Oct 2010, 12:20
  #88 (permalink)  
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I'm with Capt Turbo on this one. I don't think packing up and leaving india is necessarily the answer to improving flight safety. There are possibly more risks to flying here but the conditions are not soooo challenging as people are making out. Maybe its different in Air India but in the private Indian carriers most people aim to do their jobs to the best of their ability and safety reports are dealt with though not necessarily as openly as in western companies.

I'd suggest to Jstars that his friend might not know if the captain of the flight in question has not already been called for tea and biscuits with someone in the safety department. It's not something that would likely be advertised to the whole company.

Anyways death in a hotel room is a wild exaggeration of the consequences of filing a safety report. Jstars, tell your friend to file the report using the normal company channels. Whatever flight safety department they have in Air India, good or bad, they cannot possibly do their job properly if people don't give them any info. Even if your job was on the line would you let that compromise your own standards?

I would just follow whatever procedure they have in place for stuff like this i.e. file the report same as I would have done in my previous company and leave the rest up to them.
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Old 14th Oct 2010, 13:10
  #89 (permalink)  
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highcirrus, EMIT.

I am not doubting the entire story as such. It is only the accuracy of the points mentioned. Especially the point of being asked to level off at 1700 feet.
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Old 14th Oct 2010, 14:05
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I did a contract in that neck of the woods 25 years ago. Most of us expats received death threats in writing at least once during our tenure.

When I took up the subject with the FOD, he told me that he received them on a daily basis. In fact, on three occasions, an empty coffin was delivered to his office!

As far as I am aware, all of us are still alive.

It's a way of life (which is very cheap) in that part of the planet. I was told by one of the locals that it was entirely possible and very easy to have someone removed for around $10.00 but that it "hardly ever happened"!
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Old 14th Oct 2010, 14:16
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S10.00! Strewth, at that price, a whip-round amongst the FOs would soon sort out the Seniority List.
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Old 14th Oct 2010, 15:03
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Cheaper by the dozen....
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Old 14th Oct 2010, 21:44
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Thanks for you post 88, Top Tup, and my apologies for doubting that you actually DID something. You did! and that is exactly what Jstars friend should do, too. There is no doubt about it.

Jstar, if your friend really fear bodily harm if blowing the whistle, then he should get the hell out of here. The "eat or be eaten" mentality in India does not leave much room for trembling hands, so it is either fight or flight (coming from one, who occasionally gets fired - and later reinstated).
Just this morning my driver said "Here no tough, no life". I think I know what he meant despite my limited Hinglish.

As to the level off at 1700`. No reason to doubt it; just puzzling whether it was a misread clearance (with 3 in the cockpit??) or a freak ATC clearence. BTW, one of the other major airlines here have just introduced the procedure that at least 2 pilots shall hear and understand all ATC clearences. A small step for man, but......

Keep pushing the wall, please.
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Old 15th Oct 2010, 00:35
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Angry regulators

so when can anyone including the public, expect any regulatory body that has the duty of public safety entrusted to them, and the authority to take action, to wake up do their damn duty?

Frankly, for an industry with substantial oversight and regulatory resources at hand, precious little appears to be done. The SLF would be justified to be outraged with the state of the industry, where their safety has been marginalised to such an extent by apathy and indifference by the regulators.

DGCA, FAA, EASA, CAA, CASA, TC, and separately ICAO, IATA etc. etc. etc.

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Old 15th Oct 2010, 02:03
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This thread started out relating a situation that I believe develops many times every day in modern cockpits: automation switchology induced confusion, ie. the airplane is not doing what you expected or programed it to do. Can happen to any one of us at any time, regardless experience, ex-pat/local, airline, third world/western etc... The "golden arms" will say we should all be supermen in our knowledge and execution of automation in all flight senarios. That's not reality.

I submit that the solution is extremely simple; when your brain signals confusion, push the buttons on the yoke and on the thrust levers and make the airplane do what you want it to do. If the FD is further contributing to your and PM confusion and the PM is unsure about how to set up the MCP, call for FD off. Once your brain and the A/C is back in sync, turn the magic back on. It really is that simple.

Sadly, the administrative politics surrounding all this is not, but then that's not what I get paid to deal with.
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Old 15th Oct 2010, 13:38
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A seamless rapid transfer from full automatics to full manual raw data flight is surely not beyond a competent captain or first officer? From what I read in Pprune and have personally observed in the simulator it seems that there are many pilots who lack that basic competency. Frightening, isn't it? And the SLF down the back haven't a clue which is probably just as well.
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Old 15th Oct 2010, 16:58
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ATC clearance to be heard by both pilots

in the good old days this was a"normal" requirement.
Its amazing that over time it is now required to be brought in as a specific SOP as recomended by IOSA.
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Old 15th Oct 2010, 19:51
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Capt Fathom says . . .

"The reality is, and has been said before, a vast majority of airlines insist on the use of automation as much as possible. It is written onto the manuals, and hence becomes company law. If you decide one day to have a bit of a fly, and bust an altitude, or a limit etc., you have no come back!"
...and YOU would have a "come back" if you could blame the automatics for busting your altitude...?
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Old 15th Oct 2010, 21:29
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I have flown with many check airmen in my major airline that have while they are flying and I, as the FO, have to coach him through how to land manually when he screwed up all the automation. Another time I was doing a departure out of San Jose, Costa Rica when I was flying that I just ignored all his inputs and made a climbing right turn while he had me programed for a descending left turn. Automation is great when it works but don't blindly fly the FD when you know it is wrong. Another time out of LAX in a 767 he stayed in TO mode and busted the 2500 ft level off by 300 ft and was 300 kts when I said to reduce the throttle, lower the nose and all is well. Automation can help you or kill you, depending how far you let it go. Check Airmen don't fly the line much so get behind things easily. You can make any airliner made by Boeing into a 727 with two clicks.
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Old 15th Oct 2010, 21:34
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SMS done as envisioned and conceived is better than the old enforcement and discipline approach by the regulator. However, because SMS hands over the responsibility for safety actions to the airlines, more specifically flight operations management, airlines, rather, operations people, treat this as the deregulation of flight safety and save costs where they can. Seen it done in a serious event where the airplane was kept flying for a week in spite of the flight data which indicated the a/c should have been grounded. The FAA's experience with some US carriers shows that airlines cannot be completely trusted to regulate themselves to the point where the regulator is retreats to merely an audit role. But cash-strapped governments like the program because it legitimizes the gutting of management ranks (read, "those who go out to look at airlines"), within the regulatory authority. The FAA has learned that SMS works when the regulator is looking. We haven't discovered this in Canada yet although there have been some quiet wake-up calls.

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