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DGCA suspends two senior executives of AirAsia India for three months over 'safety violations'

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New Delhi, Aug 11: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday suspended Captain Manish Uppal and Mukesh Neema over safety violations by Air Asia. Uppal was the Head of Operations in Air Asia while Neema was Chief of Flight safety with the airline.

DGCA suspends two senior executives of AirAsia India for three months over safety violations

The DGCA had issued a show-cause notice to Air Asia on June 28 after Gaurav Taneja, one of the AirAsia India's former pilots -- who runs a YouTube channel called Flying Beast -- alleged violations of safety norms by the low-cost airline.

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    When asked about it, the airline's spokesperson said, "AirAsia India acknowledges the receipt of the notice from DGCA last month and has complied with the directions of the regulator and appointed interim post holders in accordance with the regulator's directions."

    AirAsia India prioritises safety above all and it continues to engage with the authorities and exercise the option to appeal for redressal, the spokesperson added. In June this year, one of AirAsia India's former pilots -- who runs a YouTube channel called Flying Beast -- alleged violations of safety norms by the low-cost airline.

    "We had issued a show cause notice to two AirAsia India executives -- Head of Operations Manish Uppal and Head of Flight Safety Mukesh Nema -- in June only. It has been decided now to suspend them for a period of three months," the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) official said.

    Captain Gaurav Taneja, a popular Youtuber, tweeted on June 14 that he has been suspended by AirAsia India "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".

    Taneja alleged in the video that the airline has asked its pilots to do 98 per cent of landings in "Flap 3" mode, which allows it to save fuel. He said if a pilot does not do 98 per cent 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.

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    Taneja 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 had claimed 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 had said.

    On June 15, the DGCA said on Twitter that it had 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," it added. Senior DGCA officials had confirmed on June 15 itself that AirAsia India was under investigation after Taneja's allegations.

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