Guidelines for pilots on how to handle unexpected events

New Delhi, May 29: Fresh guidelines have been issued to pilots and air traffic controllers on ways to handle unexpected events like systems malfunction, communication trouble or weather-related problems, as was witnessed in the Faridabad aircrash that claimed 10 lives.

Rules have also been framed to counter the problem of fatigue among ATC officers and pilots, apart from their general working conditions.

While several helicopters crashed in bad weather across the country, high velocity winds were suspected to have been the major cause of Thursday's accident involving the air ambulance in Faridabad.

On May 22 last year, 158 people were killed when Air India Express flight IX 812 overshot the Bajpe airport runway in Mangalore and crashed into a deep gorge.

This major crash had shaken up the aviation industry and the government which was forced to undertake a review of the safety oversight systems covering all related issues relating to aerodromes, air navigation, airlines, flight operations and training of pilots.

In a series of operations circulars published in the past few days, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has recommended that all training of pilots should include unexpected or surprise situations which can crop up anytime mid-air or while landing and take-off.

Issues like how to face sudden events like systems malfunction, deep air pockets, crew-member incapacitation or communication problems with the ATC or other crew members have been dealt with in detail, with the DGCA asking all training institutions and airlines to integrate these issues into their training programmes.

In a circular on the workload of pilots, the DGCA has underlined that since the cockpit crew have a variety of tasks to perform, they could be vulnerable to errors if proper multi-tasking environment does not exist.

The regulator has also directed the presence of cabin crew in the cockpit in case one pilot leaves it during flight, they said. Following reports of fatigue among pilots, a committee was set up by the government to examine the flight duty time limitations of crew members, which too submitted its report last year and a draft regulation has been prepared.

From issues like misunderstanding, ''mis-hearing'' or misinterpretation of ATC instructions, to insufficient time given by the ATC to take-off or last moment change of runways are dealt with in the circular as contributory factors.

The DGCA, in the circular on the workload of ATCOs, identified factors which lead them to being stressed and overloaded with work and, consequently, being prone to commit errors of judgment or have difficulties in maintaining situational awareness that could lead to accidents.

Several measures have been recommended to overcome such situations, including ensuring of adequate staffing levels, adequate rest breaks and proper training.

Following the Mangalore crash and recommendations by several committees and the Court of Inquiry, the DGCA undertook inspection of all critical airports in the past few months, insisting on adherence to approved maintenance programmes by airlines and other operators.

Intensive spot checks on tarmacs, checks on maintenance hangars or stores and night inspections have also been carried out.

Special operations surveillance drive was undertaken emphasising adherence to Special Operating Procedures, including monsoon circulars, operations on wet runways, stablised approach for safe landing, review of missed approach and a "go-around" policy.


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