Air India is alleged to have been “compromising” with flight safety norms by using a DGCA waiver on minimum cabin crew requirement on some of its long haul flights, a charge denied by the carrier. “Air India, which is facing acute shortage of cabin crew, declares one door ‘unserviceable’ on some of its long-haul flights, which lowers the crew requirement. And it happens mainly on flights to New York and Chicago, where it operates most of its flights with 11 crew as against a requirement of 14,” a crew member, who requested anonymity, said.
An airline can avail the waiver of “unserviceable door (USD)”, permitted under regulations by civil aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) only in exceptional cases, including in flight retrievals. As a mandatory safety requirement, all doors of an aircraft have to be manned by a minimum set of cabin crew. “But the national carrier is using it with impunity and that too, to meet the crew shortage,” they alleged.
The minimum crew required for commercial operations for various types of aircraft is defined under Section 38(B) of the Aircraft Act. Any reduction in the crew number is allowed only in special cases, but definitely not from base points. “Similarly, its Sydney flights are being operated with only seven crew as against a requirement of nine,” they said.
A senior Air India official denied the carrier was taking advantage of the DGCA waiver. “We have a company minimum and a DGCA minimum as far as the crew requirement onboard is concerned and we are adhering to all these norms,” the official said. He said that as per DGCA provisions, it is allowed to operate flights with 11 crew in case of shortage and added that “Sydney flights were also being operated with the required number of crew.”Air India has currently over 2,500 cabin crew, including the executive officers, to man a fleet of over 100 planes. Recently, the government has given a go-ahead to the carrier to hire an additional 800 crew to meet the shortage.
Source – Financial Express