The aviation regulator is investigating AirAsia India after one of its pilots, who runs a popular YouTube channel called Flying Beast, alleged violations of safety norms by the low-cost airliner, senior DGCA officials said on Monday.
Gaurav Taneja tweeted on Sunday that he has been suspended by AirAsia India "for standing up for safe operations of an aircraft and its passengers". On Monday, he posted a detailed video on YouTube titled "Reasons behind suspension from my pilot job".
Taneja alleged the airline has asked its pilots to do 98% of landings in "Flap 3" mode, which allows it to save fuel. He said if a pilot does not do 98% 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 said.
"DGCA has taken note of the concerns raised by some stakeholders against a particular airline and its approach to safety. DGCA has already started an investigation into the issues flagged and shall take appropriate action based on the outcome of the said investigatio," the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said on Twitter.
Senior DGCA officials confirmed AirAsia India was under investigation after Taneja's allegations.
According to AirAsia India spokesperson, "AirAsia India stands firmly on its value of 'Safety Always'. The safety of our guests is of paramount importance in every aspect of our operations. AirAsia India is cognizant of the matter in regard to a social media post put up by one of its employees.”
"We are cooperating with the DGCA on this matter. As a policy, AirAsia India does not comment on matters pertaining to its business or employees," the spokesperson added.