Air India pilot under regulatory lens for failing to report low fuel situation on Sydney flight
Under Indian regulations, a pilot concerned is required to compulsorily report certain incidents, including low fuel situation during a flight, to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
MUMBAI: Air India Director of Operations Amitabh Singh allegedly failed to file a mandatory report on low fuel situation during a flight operated by him from Delhi to Sydney last week and the incident has come under the scanner of both Indian and Australian aviation regulators, a source said on Monday.
Under Indian regulations, a pilot concerned is required to compulsorily report certain incidents, including low fuel situation during a flight, to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
"Though Singh filed a voluntary report about the incident with the airline, he did not file it online with the DGCA within the stipulated 24 hours time," an airline source told PTI.
The incident happened on flight AIC 302 on September 7.
When contacted, a senior DGCA official said, "we are aware and it is being investigated".
Separately, Australian aviation authorities have asked Air India to probe the incident as Singh also did not declare "fuel emergency" on board his flight to the Sydney Air Traffic Control while seeking priority landing and instead declared that there was minimum fuel, said the source.
An Air India spokesperson refused to comment on the incident.
According to a report from Australian aviation authorities, the flight AIC 302 was "adviced" of a ten-minute delay for its arrival at Sydney but the Pilot-In-Command (PIC) told that he only had six minutes of fuel left.
"He was told by the controller of his delay and landing time that the decision to hold or divert was for him to take.
After two minutes, the PIC said that delay was acceptable," as per the report accessed by PTI.
The two pilots were given their holding instructions but just when they were approaching the hold, the PIC adviced that they could not hold and the plane needed priority landing, it said.
"The controller adviced that without declaring a phase (cruising, descend or landing), the flight can't be accorded priority. The PIC called back with we are declaring Pan-Pan due to minimum fuel," it said.
A Pan-Pan call is a distress call.
"Due to the apparent urgency of the situation, the aircraft was prioritised despite minimum fuel call instead of declaring fuel emergency on board," the report said.
According to another airline source, the flight experienced severe weather en route to Sydney at certain places and moderate turbulence throughout, forcing the flight to deviate from the stated flight path, resulting in an increased flight time of 40 minutes.
However, strong tailwind over Australia reduced this to 25 minutes, and this additional flying time resulted in an additional fuel burn of two tonnes, the second source said.