Put Flight Safety Before Profits. Don't Use Snag-prone airplanes (A320 Classic).
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I didn't know some flights we travel in have been deemed unfit for use. That they are prone to snags. That we are kept unaware of our own safety. That our rights as Passengers are compromised. Did you?
Excerpts: In March 2015, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association had written to the DGCA against allowing the use of the A320 Classic. "The classic A320 aircraft, which are 26 years old, are being operated with repetitive snags, endangering flight safety. The DGCA should not permit AI to operate these lethal snag-prone classic aircraft in lieu of passenger safety," a letter by ICPA general secretary Praveen Keerti had said. Read full news here.
With this petition we urge the authority to ensure:
1) Air India and all companies stop the use of snag-prone crafts that endanger flight safety according to the written correspondence. (Mentioned Above.)
2) Transparency: Passengers should have access to the safety/ condition of the aircrafts they have booked.
3) Passengers who suffer due to airline negligence be refunded.
Details of my experience below:
I was on the Air India Nagpur-Mumbai (A320) flight on 15th March, 2016, that had an emergency landing due to tyre burst.
The news revealed: Pilots diagnosed old-age of aircraft as the cause.
B. Research & Response (Read more in 'Updates'):
Below are few excerpts of the Mumbai Mirror (MM) news:
1. MM: The Air India aircraft that was involved in the incident was manufactured in 1994 and is one of the oldest in this class of planes, which its pilots have in official correspondence often referred to as snag-prone and problematic.
Our response: Passengers have the right to know about their safety. If the passengers had even an inkling that the craft was not deemed fit according to official correspondence - they would not have booked it. We wouldn't risk our lives for someone's negligence.
2. MM: Officials from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) probing the incident said that it was a serious accident averted. "We are probing the possibility of a brake failure," an official said, adding that they were aware of previous incidents involving the Classic A320's and would take that into their consideration in their probe.
Our response: With more instances of similar reported snags and more denial from AI officials, we want to know how is this still allowed? What about the probe? I spoke to Aditya Anand, Mumbai Mirror Journalist on 4th Jan, 2017. He said no such information was shared with media.
- 25 Mar 2015 (Airbus 320) Firstpost article
- 8 Sep 2015 (Airbus 320) DNA article: Emergency landing of Air India plane brings to fore pilots' concerns. Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), had in March urged the DGCA to ground the national carrier's aging Airbus 320 fleet.
- June 2016 (Don't know the carrier) MM article: The take-off should have been immediately aborted, but the pilot chose to carry on," the source said. The DGCA source said that the pilots did not inform the ground staff after landing at the Mumbai airport, and the damaged wing flap was noticed by the engineers inspecting the aircraft. A Mumbai airport spokesperson confirmed the incident, even as Air India did not respond to queries.
- 14 Oct 2016 (Airbus 320) Times of India article.
- 18 Oct 2016 NDTV article.
3. MM Article: Airport sources revealed that the vigorous jerk caused by the burst tyre and the evacuation that followed resulted in some passengers reporting backaches and sprains.
Our response: Medical aid was late! Many were hurt and shaken. A little boy was traumatized and didn’t want to take his next flight. An old lady in a wheelchair was hurt on the head while sliding down and was fainting. What about those who suffered?
4. MM Article: In 2015, (read the DNA article) some passengers alleged that the Airbus A320 had technical issue even before the take off from Khajuraho.
How do we know whether this snag too was known to the airline staff before taking off?
Like in this case reported in June. ("The take-off should have been immediately aborted, but the pilot chose to carry on," the source said. The DGCA source said that the pilots did not inform the ground staff after landing at the Mumbai airport, and the damaged wing flap was noticed by the engineers inspecting the aircraft. A Mumbai airport spokesperson confirmed the incident, even as Air India did not respond to queries.)
Passengers lack awareness on their Rights. Even when the medical aid came quite late, many were clueless and hesitant to demand help. The airline officials were extremely polite and commended us on being cooperative and calm but actually we were still recovering.
There is no transparency. I do not know as a Passenger whether the plane I'm flying in endangers flight safety or is snag-prone. I assume that if a service is made available, all the people involved do their job well. But what if this isn't so?
D. Attempts so far:
1) No response by Air India Customer Care: We mailed our E-Ticket number with Air India customer care on 4th Apr, 2016, in response to their further query after our complaint and disappointment, but didn't get any reply even after a couple of follow ups.
2) Grievance reported at Airsewa.gov.in on 27th Dec. 2016
Ref.#:101383 Status: Closed Response: no specific already addressed by region.
D. Request: To, the DGCA, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and concerned authorities,
In Brief: Passengers have a right to Information:
1) On the condition and safety checks of the aircraft they are flying in.
2) About the Probe should there be any such accident.
In Detail: We demand the following to be implemented & ensured by the concerned authority:
1) Probe & Action: Updates on the probe initiated in Mar 2016 as per news reports be released to media and the immediate discontinuation of all snag-prone, defunct A320 aircrafts that are deemed unfit for use.
2) Policy be made and implemented for total refund by all airlines in case of negligence, and not only in case of disasters or delays.
3) Passenger right to information Awareness program: a) Television advertisement to be issued in Public Interest to create awareness on passenger rights, safety and refund policies.
b) Transparency: Passengers be given access to the information on aircraft’s condition (certification/ approval) while booking. Technological innovation may be required. Eg. The final surveillance result/updated condition of an aircraft be linked to an automated inflight announcement like: "This plane does not endanger flight safety" and the same approval while booking is automatically provided. OR "This flight is deemed unfit for use", etc. before booking.
4) Evacuation procedure & instructions: Please incorporate more detailed instructions & procedures:
a) My seat was at the emergency exit. Luckily I asked the air hostess to repeat instructions because she was hasty. (Of course, during the evacuation they were calm and put us ahead.) The passengers at the emergency exit need to be asked to repeat/ demonstrate what they'll do/ have understood.
b) In the chaos, it was difficult to understand who was shouting instructions were they even right, to throw the door outside once you yank it open, the slide at the middle emergency gate is to the left not straight out in the front like others and how to slide to avoid injury.
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