CHENNAI: As word got around that AirAsia’s cheerfully red Airbus A320 was ‘missing’, people in the aviation industry began to get that sinking feeling again. The one that they felt when Malaysia Airlines MH 370 mysteriously dropped out of the skies and remains a secret that even experts are befuddled with.
Shock and prayers, were the obvious frontrunners — on a day when search and rescue teams could do little to alter QZ8501’s ‘Missing’ status. “It’s quite shocking that it has happened to such a large plane with the kind of communications we have on board these days,” says a flustered Caroline A, an air-hostess who recently left a major airline. “AirAsia has a record of making their girls work quickly just to keep their turnaround time low, but I’ve always enjoyed their service. When I heard about the plane going missing, I felt bad for the girls (cabin crew) on board because they’re so very young,” she adds sadly.
Twinkle*, a flight attendant who began flying with AirAsia India recently, recounts how she had flown on those very same planes during a trip to the company’s HQ, “All the planes that we use are like brand new, compared to some of them that the other airlines use. Though it wasn’t funny or anything, we used to take digs at how we were lucky not to fly in fear like the Malaysia Airlines crew. Now we have something like that,” she says quietly. Her optimism stretches to the extent wherein she still believes that there may be survivors out there.
Pilots aren’t too far behind. But instead of wearing naked shock, the puzzle that has now book-ended the year almost neatly, is eating at them. “This shouldn’t end up being a mystery like MH370 was. We have flown in those skies and through similar weather and we deserve to know what happened to this plane. This may help in understanding the safety risk to planes, crews and passengers as a whole,” said Captain Bhagat Singh, who flies with national air carrier Air India.
An Indigo pilot who didn’t wish to be named added that this could be an incentive to low-cost carriers to spend some money on installing data link systems on their planes, “In this day and age, to lose a plane and not know what happened is ridiculous. The truth must come out and airlines must make investments to improve communication even if the sector is bleeding badly,” he said.