A day after aviation regulator DGCA issued a show cause notice to Manish Uppal, AirAsia India's Head of Operations, the airline has sacked whistleblower pilot Gaurav Taneja. The move comes two weeks after Taneja, who runs a popular YouTube channel called Flying Beast, alleged violations of safety norms by the low-cost airline.
According to media reports, the pilot was sacked on June 26, days after he was suspended for publicly alleging safety violations at the airline. The action reportedly happened on disciplinary grounds, whereby the airline followed due procedure. Taneja, a popular Youtuber, tweeted on June 14 that he has been suspended by AirAsia India "for standing up for safe operations of an aircraft and its passengers".
On June 15, he posted a detailed video on YouTube titled "Reasons behind suspension from my pilot job". Taneja alleged in the video that the airline has asked its pilots to do 98 per cent of landings in "Flap 3" mode, which allows it to save fuel. He said if a pilot does not do 98 per cent of landings in "Flap 3" mode, the airline considers it a violation of its standard operating procedure (SOP).
Flaps are part of wings of an aircraft and they are engaged to create a drag during a landing or a take off. Taneja gave the example of Imphal airport, where the plane descends more steeply as compared to other airports when approaching for landing. He said when an aircraft is coming down steeply, it needs to have a drag so that it remains slow, and in these circumstances a pilot has to do a "Flap full" landing.
"In order to achieve targets, what would people do? They will do Flap 3 landings without giving consideration whether it is safe or unsafe. This directly impacts the passenger safety," he said in his YouTube video. If something happens during a Flap 3 landing, then the question would be asked to the pilot if he or she cares more about saving fuel or 180 passengers' lives, Taneja had said.
On June 15, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said on Twitter that it had taken note of the concerns raised by some stakeholders "against a particular airline and its approach to safety".