Pilot, who slept at work and flew damaged plane, is now heading Air India ops

Suri may have slept at work only once. Given the sorry state of affairs at Air India, it is clear that the aviation authorities have been sleeping at the work for the last many years. Suri's appointment shows that they continue to do so. And that Air India will remain a millstone around the government's neck.

FP Staff December 20, 2013 15:30:01 IST
Pilot, who slept at work and flew damaged plane, is now heading Air India ops

Here is a reason why Air India will continue to be a white elephant for the government.

SPS Suri, a pilot who was once suspended by aviation regulator DGCA for endangering passengers and has over a dozenoperational lapses to his 'credit', has now been appointed as national carrier's head of operations.

According to a Mumbai Mirror report, Suri, 58, has been with the airline since 1983. Among his violations here are are a few notable ones: He once flew a damaged flight to Shanghai therebyputting to danger over 200 passengers' lives; he has violated immigration and aviation guidelines; he once fell asleep during a flight; and he came for work late, worse still did not turn up at all.

In July 2012, Suri apparently failed to report an incident of mid-air turbulence that resulted in damage to the aircraft and injuries to about 20 persons on board.

Mid Dayhad exposedhow Suri even restrained his crew from reporting the incident or even talking about it.

Pilot who slept at work and flew damaged plane is now heading Air India ops

In July 2012, Suri apparently failed to report an incident of mid-air turbulence that resulted in damage to the aircraft and injuries to about 20 persons on board.
Reuters.

"Everything was fine during the first one and a half hours of the journey. The trouble started following an announcement for all passengers and crew to be seated; approximately 10 minutes later the aircraft entered an air pocket, experiencing major turbulence. Passengers fell down on the floor, most of armrests were damaged, the overhead baggage locker opened up and some of the gear tumbled down on passengers, pillows and blankets were flying around inside the plane and one of the toilets partially caved in," a crew member had told Mid Day.

Suri was supposed to make a special report but instead he only reported a mild turbulence.The matter was not even reported to the airline or DGCA.

Later, he was grounded by the airline management after he failed to report an incident of turbulence faced while operating the flight with an Airbus 330 aircraft. Despite his suspension, Suriwas given authorisation by the airline's management to fly on Delhi-Dubai sector as additional crew member on 1 August 2012. This was in violation of immigration and aviationguidelines.

After having been de-rostered, it was illegal for Suri to have travelled as a crew member.

Following this incident, civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh even directed Air India management to withdraw the facility available to pilots to travel as an additional crew member during time off or leave with immediate effect.

What's worse is that the incident wasn't a one-off. According to the Mirror report, Suri had in 2009 also fallen asleep during a flight from Tokyo to Delhi while in 1987 Suri had reported late for a flight, delaying it by several hours.

Despite such violations, Air India has gone ahead and appointed Suri as the head of operations, a move which is being opposed by the airline's pilots too.

Suri may have slept at work only once. Given the sorry state of affairs at Air India, it is clear that the aviation authorities have been sleeping at the work for the last many years. Suri's appointment shows that they continue to do so. And that Air India will remain a millstone around the government's neck.

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