M A I N   N E W S

Fresh row in Air-India
IATA restores ISO certification after 2 months
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 14
Even as IATA has restored the ISO certification to Air India after a gap of more than two months and communicated the same to the carrier’s CMD V Thulasidas, another controversy appears to be brewing in finding a replacement for Capt M K Hathi as Director (Operations). A vigilance and security inquiry is believed to have been instituted against a select few senior aviators allegedly to victimise and keep them out of reckoning.

A three-member internal inquiry constituted by Mr Thulasidas to inquire into the litany of complaints by AI’s senior executive pilots expressing complete lack of confidence in Capt Hathi reportedly found malafide intentions against the latter on several counts including repeated violations of the Director General of Civil Aviation’s mandatory CAR (Civil Aviation Requirements) encompassing among other things the Flight Duty Time Limitations (FDTL).

Mr Thulasidas had told the Tribune that appropriate action would be taken against Capt Hathi after the submission of the inquiry panel’s report and its careful perusal.

Since the beginning of this month, Capt Hathi, Executive Director (Operations) has been put in charge of Special Projects till further notice. In the same office order Mr Thulasidas had given additional charge to Capt D Anand, Executive Director (Air Safety) of the operations department until further notice.

A lone interview was proposed earlier this month to fill the slot of Director (Operations) but postponed indefinitely at the intervention of union Civil Aviation ministry. The aviator invited for the interview was one who had exceeded the FDTL by being on board an AI flight as a supernumerary on a Delhi-Frankfurt flight and thereafter operated the onward Frankfurt-Chicago flight.

This had sent shockwaves in the civil aviation world and the regulatory body in DGCA had grounded the aviator for a month. For lesser misdemeanours, the DGCA has come down far more heavily against pilots of civilian aircraft.

Meanwhile, Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut, who is a member of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee of the ministry of Civil Aviation wrote of the Secretary of the Civil Aviation ministry Ajay Prasad on May 3 drawing his attention to the “arrogant insubordination” of the ministry’s orders in filling up Director level posts in Air-India.

As per the order of Mr Thulasidas, Mr Raut stressed that Capt Hathi has been entrusted with certain responsibilities which “in my opinion were always part and parcel of the responsibilities discharged by the Director (Operations).” He also found highly objectionable that Capt Hathi “will continue to identify potential sources of manpower which in plain language means he will continue to handle the responsibility of recruitment of pilots.”

The office order of Mr Thulasidas “is an attempt to hoodwink the whole issue and throw the directions of the ministry to the wind.”

Mr Prasad in his reply to Mr Raut of May 8 observed he is having the matter of filling vacancies of Directors in Air India looked into. “In the meantime, the process of filling up of these vacancies has been kept in abeyance,” Mr Prasad added.

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