A section of AI pilots threaten not to fly to Kabul

With DGCA pulling up airlines and pilots for flying in unsafe conditions in Goa, a section of Air India pilots have threatened not to operate flights to Kabul citing safety and security concerns.

New Delhi: With DGCA pulling up airlines
and pilots for flying in unsafe conditions in Goa, a section
of Air India pilots have threatened not to operate flights to
Kabul citing safety and security concerns and asked the
management to clarify its stand.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA),
representing over 800 pilots of Air India, has asked the
management to clarify nine issues relating to the airport in
the capital of strife-torn Afghanistan, which, they claimed,
were directly affecting the safety of flight operations there.

The ICPA sought the clarifications in a letter to the
management on the issue. This was its second letter after the
one in February last year in which it had made the same
threat.

The pilots` body claimed that "no special procedure
for unlawful interference", which includes hijack, has been
devised for operating to cities like Kabul over a decade after
the 1999 hijack of Indian Airlines` flight IC-814 to Kandahar.

While the quality of air traffic control was poor, the
airport`s runway and taxiway surfaces were of poor quality
and had no markings, the ICPA claimed. The parking areas were
also not upto the mark, it said.

Kabul airspace was not free of conflicting traffic due
to which there are frequent occurrences of traffic and
resolution advisories, it said, adding that as the airport "is
surrounded by high terrain, there is no special single engine
procedure which has the approval of Civil Aviation Authority
of Afghanistan".

The pilots` body said the flight crew were not being
provided the topographical map as was being done for Jammu,
Srinagar or northeastern sectors as part of a necessary
requirement.

It also asked the management to clarify whether the
Airbus A-320 family aircraft, which operates on the Delhi-
Kabul route, could meet the rate of climb restrictions during
single engine operations under full load conditions, pointing
out that it was the operator`s responsibility to demonstrate
the capability.

In February last year too, the ICPA had written to the
airline on the same issues, following which the management had
made it clear that "its services to Kabul are DGCA-compliant."

Air India`s management had also said that safety
apprehensions put across by the ICPA were "misplaced" and "the
points raised by ICPA with regard to operations to Kabul are
not tenable" as the airline has been operating there for many
years without any untoward incident or safety violation.

The Air India pilots had then threatened not to
operate flights to Kabul if the management did not give
"clear-cut guidelines" as it directly affected the safety of
passengers and crew.

Finding the management`s response "not satisfactory",
the ICPA has now reiterated its position on flying to Kabul.

PTI

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