NEW DELHI: The main base audit of Air India (AI) Express, conducted prior to the more recent financial audit, has revealed that not only has AI been hiring pilots with dubious records from abroad but also has unlicensed pilots operating its flights.
The audit conducted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in September 2011 was a follow-up of its observations made earlier in the year. According to DGCA officials, AI had hired a pilot from abroad with a dubious flying record to fly as a captain on the AI Express flights.
Capt Goran Pacivic has been with AI for over three years now and was recruited through the Rishworth Aviation agency. His biodata was recorded as pilot-in-command US/Relief/Cruise Captain, which was not stamped or verified by any credible authority or even the previous employer. However, his previous history indicated that he was a first officer and not a captain.
Further dissection of his flying records revealed that his log books itself had been doctored. Moreover, he was shown as co-pilot/other crew everywhere. “It is intriguing that in spite of this anomaly, the captain was recruited without confirmation by the expat cell of AI,” says the report.
What is more shocking is that exemptions made by DGCA on flight-duty-time-limitations (FDTL) for certain sectors were applied on all sectors. This in spite of the Mangalore crash that showed that the pilot was fatigued. Violations of FDTL exceeded 1,000 hours in a year for 14 crew members.
The audit team could not find proper records of any of the flying crew owing to duplication in AI and AI Express. Captains with expired mandatory licenses had continued to fly. “Capt Abhishek’s DGR expired in March but he continued to be rostered for flights until he underwent training for the same in April.” The audit noticed that AI Express had inherited the faulty planning mechanisms of AI that also led to retarding of effective utilisation of aircraft.
Aviation commentator Capt Ranganathan said, “The Flight Standards Directorate does the audit along with safety. The Flight Operations Inspectors of DGCA are all from AI and they will be aware of what happened in various stages of a pilot’s progress in AI Express. If they let a pilot go through the 777 command upgrade programme, without he being qualified for it, it is a serious cover-up by them to help their own colleagues who went on deputation to AI Express.”