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Air India pilot gets notice for one minute delay in reaching the cockpit

This alleged one-minute delay was found when the DGCA carried out spot checks of AI flights on that day at Delhi airport.

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Last Updated: Mar 20, 2015, 10.24 AM IST|Original: Mar 20, 2015, 10.16 AM IST
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This alleged one-minute delay was found when the DGCA carried out spot checks of AI flights on that day at Delhi airport. 
This alleged one-minute delay was found when the DGCA carried out spot checks of AI flights on that day at Delhi airport. 
(This story originally appeared in on Mar 20, 2015)
NEW DELHI: A minute's alleged delay in reaching the cockpit may cost an Air India pilot dear. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued a show cause notice to a senior AI commander for reaching cockpit of the aircraft he was to fly 44 minutes before the schedule departure time instead of the required 45 minutes.

The commander was to operate AI 213, Delhi-Kathmandu flight, on February 26, 2015. This alleged one-minute delay was found when the DGCA carried out spot checks of AI flights on that day at Delhi airport.

"During spot check it was observed that (the captain) had reported 44 minutes prior to the departure of his scheduled flight AI 213. Whereas in accordance with the operations manual, (the captain) was required to report 45 minutes before the schedule departure in order to carry out cockpit safety checks effectively," the show cause issued last Friday by DGCA's joint DG Lalit Gupta says.

It adds: "Now the captain is hereby called upon to show cause why action should not be taken against him for the aforesaid violation. Reply to this notice should reach this office within 15 days. If (he) fails to reply within the stipulated time, it will be assumed that he has nothing to say in his defence and suitable action will be taken," the notice says.

The DGCA has been conducting surprise checks on airlines frequently now as India's aviation safety regulator has been downgraded by the US Federal Aviation Administration for poor safety oversight. Sources said that the regulator has found several cases across airlines of pilots reporting to the cockpit much after the prescribed 45 minutes before departure time. The regulator has issued a number of notices to pilots of some airlines like AI and Jet Airways on this issue in recent days.

However, senior pilots say that DGCA rules are not clear about when they should reach the cockpit. "We are supposed to sign our medical papers in our airline office at airports 45 minutes before schedule departure time. Then we go to dispatch where we get all information about the flight like if there are any restrictions (called notice to airmen or notems) enroute; runway conditions at destination and alternate airports' and weather conditions. After that we proceed to the aircraft by clearing immigration (if operating international flights) and security," said a senior commander.

Pilots say the 45-minute reporting norm of DGCA applies to reporting for the first formality of operating a flight, that is signing the medical. "DGCA rules are not clear on the number of minutes before schedule departure time that a pilot should reach the cockpit. Some airlines say pilots should reach 30 minutes before departure time but this remains a grey area," said another senior commander.

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