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Since 1st March, 1999
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Mizoram flight in legal turbulence
- Deputy general manager of Indian goes to court over violation of norms

Calcutta, May 13: A deputy general manager of Indian (airlines) has moved Calcutta High Court, seeking an inquiry into the “unsafe operation” of an A-319 aircraft between Calcutta and Lengpui in Mizoram.

The case will be heard by Justice D. Dutta this week.

The petitioner, Captain Hari Shankar Mishra, who was assigned the task of ensuring safety in air operations, also alleged that the airline had introduced the A-319 aircraft without a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).

According to aviation rules, the SOP is a must for introducing a flight on any route.

Denying the charges, an Indian spokesman said: “All norms set by the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) were followed while introducing the A-319 fleet. We accord maximum importance to passenger safety.”

The airline has been flying the A-319 aircraft between Calcutta and Lengpui since January 1, 2006.

The petitioner has argued that the airline has been compromising with safety by flying a heavy aircraft like A-319 on such a “dangerous” route. He has also claimed that deputy general managers are being asked to fly to Lengpui and back, as the members of the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association have refused to operate A-319 on the route.

“As my client had mentioned in the logbook that he would not fly the A-319, the DGCA asked him not to write any notes on the log book,” said V.N. Dwivedi, the lawyer appearing for Captain Mishra.

The authorities, he added, did not accept the petitioner’s proposal that he be either demoted to the post of pilot or paid all dues so he could leave the organisation.

Pilots who fly the A-319 feel it unsafe to operate the aircraft on the Calcutta-Lengpui route. “The terrain in Mizoram is very difficult. Thick clouds gather in the valley, reducing visibility significantly,” said a pilot.

Besides, there are hills within three nautical miles on either side of the runway.

“In case of deviation from the flight path, a lighter aircraft like ATR would have been easier to manoeuvre. The A-319 has jet engines and if there is any miscalculation, the aircraft will straight hit the hills,” the pilot explained. “Who will take the responsibility if there is a mishap'”

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