“There is no scope of action by Air Vistara because whistleblower shot mail in December 2021 and during the same period Gaganjot was sent on P1 Command upgrade training”
Casting aspersions on the engagement of pilots by Airline operators and its monitoring by Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), a person namely Gaganjot Singh guilty of sub standard flight safety record and ‘deliberate’ suppression of past air safety flight record has been engaged as Pilot/First Officer by Air Vistara, a TATA SIA joint venture.
Talking to The Typewriter, a whistleblower in the aviation industry revealed that though the Airline companies claim to have transparent hiring policy, the fact remains that rules and regulations pertaining to the hiring are violated at the whims of private air operators, whereas DGCA remains ‘non-entity’.
“In the year 2019, Vistara appointed/engaged a Pilot, First Officer namely Mr. Gaganjot Singh having CPL (A) No. 12667, ATPL (A) No. : 7650, FRTOL (A) No. : 18576, DGCA Medical File No. : 940/2011-L2,” said whistleblower, adding that he was shocked to see a person with abysmal record of personal health & sub-standard flying has been engaged by Vistara.
He claimed that on 9th of June 2017, Gaganjot Singh was operating Air India scheduled flight AI821 VT-ESL from Delhi to Jammu on Airbus A320 aircraft as a Co-Pilot (Pilot Monitoring) and was reportedly involved in a serious incident of runway overrun after landing on Runway 36 at Jammu Aerodrome.
“The aircraft was under the command of Capt SS Johar who was acting as (PF) Pilot Flying and First Officer Gaganjot Singh acting as Pilot Monitoring (PM). There were a total 137 passengers and 04 cabin crew members on board,” he said and added that the guilty pilot did not follow the set procedures for Normal Approach & Landing on Performance Limited Airfield and breached all the protocols, rules & regulations of Pilot Monitoring duties prescribed as per DGCA/ICAO and aircraft manufacturer Airbus that in this case resulted in runway over-run of the aircraft which turned into tyre burst, aircraft halting 53 feet before perimeter wall of the airport thereby leading to emergency slides coming out and further damaging the aircraft.
Whistleblower divulged that the incident of flight AI821 VT-ESL (Delhi-Jammu) which took-off from Delhi and on approaching the destination Jammu when the Landing Gear was selected down “Brake Auto Brake Fault” warning message was triggered with failure message of “BRK NORM SERVOVLV7 (80GG)” on ECAM.
“Despite of this warning message the crew decided to continue the approach. Then at 500ft above the ground the aircraft started to fly below the designated Glide Path and exceeded its callout value, the final approach was no more stabilised even then the Pilot Flying and Pilot Monitoring continued to approach Runway 36 at Jammu, the shocking part of which is that Gaganjot Singh was Pilot Monitoring and it was his first mandatory duty by when on seeing a un-stabilised approach,” Whistleblower said, adding that Singh should have called out for a “Go-around” as per SOP’s / procedures lay down by DGCA / ICAO and Aircraft manufacturer Airbus, but he deliberately disregarded his responsibilities which is a major lapse of judgment and clearly depicts and signifies that Gaganjot Singh did not take appropriate steps of following the mandatory aircraft approach procedure’s, the incident was not situational as the Pilot Monitoring lacked the mental alertness which depicts the non-application of mind, failure of alertness and indecisiveness mental awareness.
He asserted that after considering the Report, the misconduct and failure of Gaganjot Singh, he ‘intentionally’ instigated Pilot Flying for continuation of Un-stabilised approach, which resulted in landing way beyond touchdown point at 2450ft on a 6800ft Runway 36 at Jammu Aerodrome.
“Despite noticing that the aircraft has exceeded the desired touchdown point it was yet again the responsibility of Pilot Monitoring to call-out for GO-AROUND, but unfortunately Gaganjot Singh disregarded to follow standard call-outs,” whistleblower said and added that because of lackadaisical and continuation of un-stabilised approach, lack of application of set procedures and not following emergency checklist and failure of PM (Pilot Monitoring) duties, it clearly reveals that Gaganjot Singh is allegedly unfit to perform the commercial flying duties on an air transport category aircraft.
Meanwhile, an official of DGCA, wishing not to be named, said that the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau ordered the investigation and inquiry.
“Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) carried out a detailed investigation. In the Findings of the conclusion given in the report, it is categorically mentioned that despite the Brake Auto Brake Fault ECAM warning message came on selecting Landing Gear Down, The PF (Pilot Flying) and PM (Pilot Monitoring) continued an Un-stabilised approach and decided for manual braking, highlighting in-action of the PM – (Pilot Monitoring), which in turn instigated the PF (Pilot Flying) to continue the Un- Stabilised approach instead of taking over the control and command of the aircraft and changing the approach from landing to GO-AROUND,” said official, adding that the PM – (Pilot Monitoring) remained silent on the continuation of Un-stabilised approach.
He said that in the conclusion, AAIB has clearly mentioned, “The probable cause of incident is delayed touchdown of the Aircraft and low de-acceleration rate due to improper brake application, which resulted in tyre burst and runway over-run”. He added that from the investigation carried out by the AAIB and in its findings, it has categorically ruled that the erring pilot Gaganjot Singh was ‘un-mindful of the consequences because of the non-application of mandatory procedures, lack of situational awareness, unfit mind for professional aviation duties’ while acting as a Co-pilot /PM of the said flight led to the unfortunate incident which could have been avoided.
Aviation regulator DGCA had earlier suspended flying licences of two SpiceJet pilots for one year for unstabilised approach in Mumbai that led to their aircraft overshooting runway after landing at Mumbai airport, according to a senior official.
When contacted Air Vistara, the official spokesperson initially tried to escape from the query and claimed that Gaganjot Singh joined Vistara after he was given clearance by DGCA. However, DGCA official maintained that no clearance was given to anyone.
“He joined Vistara after he got clearance from the DGCA,” said Abhilash, an official spokesperson of Vistara. When told that DGCA did not provide any clearance to the erring pilot, Vistara spokesperson changed his mind and said that action against him has already been taken on the basis of representation submitted by the whistleblower.
When told that there is no scope of action by Air Vistara because whistleblower shot mail in December 2021 and during the same period Gaganjot was sent on P1 Command upgrade training, spokesperson of Vistara again changed his mind and said that although he is on training but an embargo of one year has been put against him, during which he cannot be elevated to Pilot in Command.
When asked whether Gaganjot Singh revealed his past flight record at the time of joining or taking up P1 Command upgrade training, spokesperson of Vistara-Abhilash said that he is not sure but as per his information, Gagan concealed it.
A senior official of DGCA, wishing anonymity, claiming that talking to media is against the official code of conduct, said that the onus lies on Vistara and DGCA.
“I spoke to the erring pilot and he admitted that an incident of such nature has happened under his watch. He, however stated that the erring pilot did not say anything about action taken by DGCA,” said official, adding that it means DGCA allegedly provided safe escape to the pilots involved in the incident, whereas Vistara hired one of the pilots without allegedly checking his antecedents.
When contacted Director General, Directorate General of Civil Aviation- Arun Kumar said that it is an old case.
“I have already asked (the concerned officer) to locate the detail of the matter. Incidentally I was not here. Nonetheless, we will let you know the facts as soon as possible,” said Arun Kumar.