Mangalore crash: DGCA’s fresh directive to airlines

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - 17:46

New Delhi: In the aftermath of the
Mangalore air crash, aviation regulator DGCA has issued a
fresh directive to all airlines re-defining "correct landing"
procedures and to ensure that a senior cabin crew is present
in the cockpit in case one of the pilots has to go out.

The directive came in the backdrop of the crash which
claimed 158 lives and another incident in which an Air India
Express plane from Dubai to Pune, with 118 persons on board,
plunged a few thousand feet after hitting an air pocket.

At that time, the commander had gone to the toilet
after putting the plane on auto-pilot mode and the co-pilot
blanked out as the aircraft dived over 6,000 feet.

The fresh directives, issued by the Directorate
General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) reiterating the Standard
Operating Procedures (SOPs), asked airlines, non-scheduled and
general aviation operators to "ensure that `correct` landings
are aimed by pilots rather than achieving soft landings at
lower `G` (gravity) values that may compromise the runway
stopping distance required".

In case of an "unstabilised approach" if not timely
corrected, the pilots should make a `go-around` so that they
get another opportunity to conduct a safe approach, it said.

As per preliminary investigations, the Mangalore crash
occurred after the plane reportedly missed the touchdown
point, an area of about 500 feet, on the runway.

As a large percentage of incidents and accidents
occurred during approach, landing or take off phases of a
flight when the pilots generally operate on manual flight
mode, the DGCA said "it is critical that SOPs are followed
meticulously in these phases of flight".

"Pilots need to bear in mind that a good landing is
the result of a good approach which is built on adherence to
SOPs. 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," it said.

The regulator warned that a soft landing could result
in a delayed touchdown which would need "harsh" deceleration
in speed to maintain the aircraft on the runway or "even worse
a runway excursion with possible catastrophic results".

On manning of the cockpit at all times during flight,
the DGCA directive reiterated this as mandatory and said 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 but not
those meant for the pilots.

"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
DGCA said.

It said the cabin crew would remain in the flight deck
till such time the flight deck crew member returns to the
deck, it said and called for "strict compliance" of the fresh
directive.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - 17:46

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