MUMBAI: A senior Air India executive commander prone to sudden, psychotic mood swings carried out an extremely unsafe manoeuvre onboard a Delhi-Paris flight on April 28 putting the Boeing 787 and the lives of over 200 passengers and crew at risk.
A panel formed to probe the incident concluded last month that the commander should undergo psychiatric evaluation and thereafter fly only as a co-pilot for six months, during which his behaviour should be under check. The commander is currently grounded, but the airline has formed another committee to relook the case and there are apprehensions he may get a clean chit.
Unlike the Germanwings March 2015 crash in which a suicidal co-pilot locked out the commander and flew into the French Alps killing all 150 people on board, in the Air India case, it was the copilot who raised an alarm.
On April 28, the commander, for reasons unknown, manipulated the onboard flight management computer and initiated a climb beyond the aircraft’s altitude capability.
This would have taken the aircraft into what’s commonly called the “coffin corner” — the altitude at which an aircraft becomes unstable and the flight controls offer no help. Once at this altitude, any reduction in airspeed would cause the aircraft to stall, but if the speed is increased (to prevent the stall) the aircraft could suffer structural damage. So either way the aircraft is at risk.
“Even as the commander started the climb, the co-pilot objected. But he disregarded the co-pilot’s advice and the aircraft came close to stall speed,” said a source. “Luckily for its crew and passengers, the aircraft was brought down to a safer altitude.”
The co-pilot later reported the incident. “An inquiry was ordered, which subsequently discovered a number of other incidents where the commander’s behaviour had come across as mercurial, unstable and temperamental, a trait considered unsafe for a pilot,” a source said.
In the last 2-3 years, the frequency of such cases had gone up. The inquiry panel said it would be unsafe to overlook his behaviour pattern and recommended a psychiatric assessment by IAF doctors.
However, the airline, instead has constituted a new panel. “Two of the three members in this panel are known to be close to the commander and they might let him go scotfree and let him back into the cockpit in command,” said a source. The AI spokesperson was sent a questionnaire, but the airline did not respond.
Source : Times of India
BA passengers held hostage by Saddam Hussain prepare to sue
British Airways Flight 149, which was due to stop at Kuwait International Airport on August 2, 1990, had both its passengers and crew held captive by Iraqi forces. While the plane was in the air, Saddam Hussein’s forces invaded Kuwait, and the passengers were held for up to five months while being used as “human shields” against Western attacks during the Gulf War.
Now, those captives claim that although British Airways and the British government were aware that the invasion had already started, they still permitted the plane to land in Kuwait because the government wanted a black operations group of former special forces and security services to be there.
The revelations followed years of study by New Zealand journalist Stephen Davis and the National Archives release of supporting documentation. The victims’ legal team said in a statement that they are taking steps to ensure that the whole truth is revealed, those accountable are held liable, and just compensation is given.
According to attorneys for the claimants, “evidence exists” that the jet was permitted to land because it was being used to transport a team to Kuwait “for a special military operation.” This claim was never accepted by the government.
An official from the administration claimed that the country “always condemned the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the suffering that ensued, and the mistreatment of those aboard BA149.” The Iraqi government at the time bears sole responsibility for the occurrence of these events and the treatment of those passengers and crew.
BA said: “Our thoughts go out to all those who were affected by this tragic act of violence just over 30 years ago and who had to go through an extremely horrifying ordeal. “British Airways was not warned about the invasion, according to UK government records released in 2021.”
Air France-KLM and Etihad Airways expand partnership to enhance commercial and operational collaboration
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – Air France-KLM Group and Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aiming at enhancing their collaboration opportunities across passenger operations, loyalty programs, talent development, and maintenance.
The signing ceremony took place at the Air France-KLM Group’s headquarters in Paris, France in the presence of Angus Clarke, Chief Commercial Officer, Air France-KLM, and Arik De, Chief Revenue Officer, Etihad Airways.
Through this partnership, and subject to any necessary regulatory approvals, Air France-KLM and Etihad contemplate expanding their codeshare and interline agreements initiated in 2012. As a first step, more than 40 new routes covering destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Australia have been made available for booking as of today, for travel as early as the winter 2023 season.
The MoU also proposes the ability for frequent flyers of both Flying Blue and Etihad Guest to earn and redeem miles with Air France, KLM, and Etihad. The airlines will also explore terminal co-location, reciprocal lounge access, and ground handling, among other initiatives.
Etihad currently operates daily flights to both Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam Schiphol from Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Air France will start operating daily flights between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Abu Dhabi International Airport from October 29, 2023.
India puts Russian K-36 ejection seat in Tejas to bar UK impact
India upgraded its “Tejas” fighter, using Russian technology, to avoid British restrictions. The Russian-designed K-36 seats will replace the Martin Baker ejection seats in the Indian fighter plane in order to get over the British restriction on sales to Argentina.
A crucial diplomatic meeting between Brig. Gen. Xavier Isaac, the head of the Argentine Air Force, and Dinesh Bhatia, the Indian ambassador to Argentina, took place on August 30. Their talk was primarily centered on the possibilities for bilateral relations between the two countries to grow, particularly in light of Argentina’s probable purchase of TEJAS combat planes and helicopters.
The prospect of Argentina acquiring these military equipment shows a substantial strengthening of their strategic alliance. Both the MiG series and Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets prominently incorporate the Zvezda K-36 seat, which has a long history of military aviation innovation. The Zvezda K-36D, the seat’s original design, was created in the late 1960s with the express intention of safeguarding MiG-25 Foxbat pilots. This aircraft, which gained fame for its rare Mach 3 speed and capability for stratospheric flights, was the pinnacle of famed Soviet aviation designer Mikhail Gurevich.
“The Argentinians have received a firm proposition. The process to replace the British components has already begun, a HAL official reportedly stated.
In a strategic move, the United Kingdom has intervened to prevent Argentina from acquiring fighter jets to strengthen its military. Argentina’s procurement process has been seriously hampered by the UK’s imposition of embargoes on aircraft parts made within its borders. In addition, the UK put diplomatic pressure on Spain, forcing it to drop out of a deal to give Argentina excess Mirage-F1M fighter fighters.
The Russian K-36 seats will be placed in place of the Martin-Baker ejection seats in order to prevent the TEJAS agreement from succumbing to British strong-arm tactics. The HAL representative said, “We already have the seats available.” K-36 ejection seats are already in the possession of the HAL, which is working on the Sukhoi Su-30MKI under licence.
The K-36 ejection seat is a remarkable piece of engineering that has saved the lives of countless military pilots and aircrew members over the years. Developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War era, the K-36 ejection seat is known for its reliability and effectiveness in rapidly ejecting pilots from a stricken aircraft in emergency situations. It has been widely used in various military aircraft, particularly in Soviet and Russian aircraft, and has gained a reputation for its robust design and high survival rate for occupants.
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