BENGALURU: Among those in the defence and aviation circles who were shocked by the Air India Express crash at Kozhikode, is Captain Deepak Vasant Sathe’s long-time professional contact, Dr K Tamilmani, former Director General of Aeronautical Systems at Defence Research & Development Organisation.
Captain Sathe, who was the pilot-in-command, and his co-pilot Akhilesh Kumar were among those who died in the incident. Wing Commander (retd) Sathe, who served in Indian Air Force from June 1981 to June 2003, served in Bengaluru towards the end of his IAF career before he moved to Air India.
Tamilmani (68) bills him as a thorough professional. Factors beyond human control may have caused the tragic accident to the Dubai-Kozhikode flight, he opined.
Tamilmani, who held the post of a scientist at DRDO earlier, closely worked with Sathe for around four years from 2000 to 2003.
Reliving their stint together, he said, “The DRDO used to develop Airborne Early Warning (AEW) systems for aircraft that can help detect enemy aircraft at long ranges.
Sathe served as a test pilot then. Both of us in the cockpit along with an engineer used to fly such aircraft regularly.”
He said, “Sathe was meticulous and systematic. He would constantly try to understand everything about our aircraft by interacting with scientists and engineers and making notes. When flying, he would gradually expand the flight envelope. Despite his super abilities, he was never a risk-taker.”
“We took part in four or five Aero India shows together,” Tamilmani said.
“Sathe was also a real team player and colleagues relished working with him. Apart from being an excellent squash player, he was good in golf too,” Tamilmani recalled.
“Though he moved away from IAF, we developed a bond and used to meet once in a while and kept in touch through calls too,” he said.
Asked to give his take on the accident, Tamilmani said, “Everything that is being speculated and written about now is only a possible, possible, scenario. Only the Black Box can give us the truth.”
“The Directorate General of Civil Aviation should have banned landing on Table Top airports in the country during rainy weather after the Mangaluru tragedy,” he said.