Air India pilots are up in arms over the airline's decision to appoint its first woman pilot -- who joined AI in 1988 but could never fly an aircraft s a pilot as she failed to failing to clear company medical tests -- as the airline's chief of flight safety (CoFS).
The directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) had last month removed AI's previous CoFS after it was found that he had not kept data records of some flights for six months, as required by law. After his removal, AI was to recommend some experienced pilot or engineer, though airlines almost always nominate their best pilots for the job for the job.
AI nominated then recommended the woman's nameAI sources say the airline had recommended two candidates to the DGCA, one a 'flying' captain and the woman.
DGCA selected the latter. "The approval shall remain valid for a period of one year or till she remains in the employment of AI... and subject to her undergoing technical performance course on Boeing 787 type of aircraft," reads the DGCA order clearing her appointment issued on Tuesday. The DGCA, which has cleared her elevation to the position, stipulates that the chief of flight safety should have "experience as a flight crew member, preferably on type of aircraft operated by the airline or (be) aviation engineer" with an impeccable safety record.
Neither AI nor DGCA offered comments for the story.
While senior AI pilots are opposing her elevation, to the position as they saying the job is for active pilots, a former airline CEO said: "The person who has been appointed CoFS has a commercial pilot licence which means she is a trained pilot, though non-flying, but and meets the basic requirement for the job."
AI sources say the airline had sent two names to the DGCA, one of a "flying" captain and of the lady. The regulator selected the latter.
Airline sources say that the woman is from the second batch of pilots trained by the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Udan Academy. After campus interviews by then AI and Indian Airlines (which used to be separate companies then), she joined AI in 1988 and was the first woman pilot in that airline. After joining AI, she had to undergo some company medical tests. She reportedly did not clear that failing the medical tests, the woman Then she got ground jobs in AI and became a ground instructor forwhere she trained other pilots. She later rose to became a director in AI and was the in-charge of inflight service and cabin crew.
Meanwhile, the airline's executive pilots of AI -- who are the senior most pilots -- have threatened to take action against AI's decision to cut 25% of their pay for failing to have pay parity in the erstwhile AI and Indian Airlines.
Pilots recommended to be CoFS have to be cleared by the regulator and remain in that position till the regulator's approval remains.
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