Fresh safety norms issued for ‘strict’ compliance by airlines

New Delhi, June 2 (IANS) India’s aviation regulator Wednesday issued ‘strict’ directives to all carriers, asking pilots to refrain from forced soft landings or leaving the cockpit inadequately manned, following a spate of incidents, one of which claimed 158 lives.

‘Ensure correct landings are aimed by pilots, rather than achieving ‘soft’ landings that may compromise the runway-stopping distance required,’ the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in the strong missive to all carriers.

Reports after the Air India Express mishap at Mangalore May 22 suggested that the main reason for the crash could have been a soft landing attempted by the pilot, which many airlines informally insist for the comfort of passengers, thereby overshooting the touchdown point on the runway.

‘A good landing is not one that the passengers perceive as a soft landing, but one that is made at the correct point on the runway with the correct flight parameters,’ said the directorate in what is called the standard operating procedures in aviation parlance.

‘An attempt to cushion a decent landing to make a soft landing could result in a delayed touchdown that would need harsh deceleration to maintain the aircraft on the runway or even worse a runway excursion with possible catastrophic results,’ said the regulator.

‘If however, for any reasons, the approach is unstabilised, a go-around is a safer option which affords the pilot another opportunity to conduct a safe approach to land.’

The operating procedures required to be followed by all staff for scheduled, charter and general aviation operators also alludes to the incident Monday, when an Air India Express flight hit an air pocket over Muscat and dropped 5,000 feet when one of the pilots was away from his seat.

‘At all given times the cockpit has to be manned by minimum crew complement,’ said the directive.

‘In case one of the crew members has to leave the cockpit during the non-critical phases of flight, the cabin crew is required to be inside the cockpit and occupy the observer seat. In no case the cabin crew will occupy the seats meant for cockpit crew,’ it said.

‘In case one pilot leaves the flight deck, cabin crew shall be in the flight deck and will occupy one of the observer seats. The cabin crew in the flight deck will remain vigilant in case of subtle incapacitation of the flight deck crew or any other situation that requires assistance.’

The other procedures that the crew, including the pilots, have to follow include:

-Prior to opening the flight deck door, the forward galley area should be free of passengers

-Curtain between the galley and the cabin must be drawn during such times

-Absence from cockpit should be restricted to the minimum time necessary

-Flight deck door is locked whilst crew member is absent

-Forward galley area must remain sterile during the absence from the flight deck

-Crew member returning to the flight deck should follow the entry request procedure

‘The pilot remaining in the cockpit shall wear shoulders harness, and headset and maintain high level of alertness, and situational awareness. He should have an un-obstructed access to the flight controls,’ the regulator said.

‘The above is for strict compliance.’

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