Air Vice-Marshal (retd) remembers Capt Sathe

Retd Air Vice-Marshal from Jalandhar Sarvjit Hothi says Wing Cdr Deepak Vasant Sathe was an asset to both IAF & Air India

Air Vice-Marshal (retd) remembers Capt Sathe

Wing Cdr Deepak Vasant Sathe

Avneet Kaur

Jalandhar, August 9

Wing Commander Deepak Vasant Sathe, who was the pilot of the ill-fated Air India Express plane that crashed in Kerala on August 7, was an exceptionally bright and high on life person, remembered his commanding pilot and retired Air Vice-Marshal from Jalandhar Sarvjit Hothi.

Sarvjit Hothi, Air Vice-Marshal (retd) from Jalandhar

He said Air India Express Boeing 737-800, which was involved in the accident, had flown nearly 20 flights of it mainly in the Gulf sector. He said he had flown four sectors — from Dubai to Lucknow and back and Dubai to Amritsar and back — with Capt Deepak Sathe in May 2010, who was then his co-pilot. He also explained every single precautionary measure and associated challenges that pilots go through before landing.

“Only when we were expecting that 2020 could not be worse, this tragic accident of Air India Express flight shook the nation. I have fond memories with my colleague Capt Sathe. He fought for the country during Kargil war and commanded a Mobile Air Defence missile unit before he hung up his boots in 2003,” shared Sarvjit Hothi.

Hothi said: “After getting relieved from the Indian Air Force (IAF) in October 2007, I joined Air India as a pilot and it was in 2010, that I made sorties to Dubai and back with Deepak Sathe. I have flown a lot in all these four coastal International Airports — Cochin, Kozhikode, Trivandrum and Manglore — all functional and adequately equipped to international standards having very safe runways, yet, these have their own challenges.”

He said when it comes to landing, weather, even though within permissible limits, can go beyond a pilot’s handling limitation. However, aquaplaning, water-logging, crosswinds, dark night conditions, similar weather in diversionary airfields, low-fuel state add to the odds that make a pilot’s decision-making challenging. Hothi said Deepak had many skills and great experience, as it was possible for any pilot to have. He was an asset to both IAF as well Air India, he said.

Sharing some technical aspects of the accident, Hothi said: “What I learnt from the reports being telecasted on TV is that Deepak landed around 3,000 ft up the runway. And, I strongly feel that is what was required. Landing at 3,000 ft was perfectly normal and legal. Enough safety margins are available to stop the aircraft. But if the last 3,000 ft of the runway is contaminated with rubber deposits, it can well behave like a glass sheet.”

“Moreover, before landing, pilots always do calculations using an on-board computer to calculate using all these parameters such as wind, aircraft weight, outside temperature, how high the airfield is from the sea level and the condition of the runway,” he said.

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