“Since you’ve been blogging on AI, was wondering if you’d seen this latest...” said my friend Sri in a Facebook message. It was a link to a dispute between the cabin crew and a pilot on whether to serve alcoholic drinks on a flight from Delhi to Dubai.
The cabin crew pointed to a regulation that required at least six to be on duty if liquor was to be served. We’re not sure whether hard drinks make for 20% more work; or if six crew members would be needed to restrain those who over-indulge and become belligerent… Anyway, in a cost-cutting move, the plane had only five in the cabin crew that day.
Discussions ensued. The Captain, realizing that booze is an Important Customer Service issue (especially, one supposes, on a flight to Dubai where alcohol is restricted) offered to help out as the sixth cabin crew-member. Eventually, drinks were offered and peace prevailed.
Or not quite. The Air Corporation Employees Union, which covers the cabin crew, are annoyed that the captain pressured them to break the rules. They’re taking it up, according to MSN’s report, with Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA), which covers the pilots; and are threatening to boycott this particular pilot.
Less amusing is the tragic tale of the recent Air India crash and its aftermath. According to the NDTV report, flight from Dubai to Mangalore, piloted by an experienced British pilot of Serbian origin, overshot the runway of Mangalore’s hilltop airport by 2000 feet, and crashed. Of those on board, eight survived; and 158 died.
I’m mentioning his national origin because ICPA thinks this is the issue. They have written to the Ministry about employing foreign pilots instead of Indian ones. They also think the management of Air India leaves something to be desired…
Meanwhile, an environmental group believes the fault lay with the airport, not the pilot. The Environmental Support Group fought to stop the building of the second runway right up to India’s Supreme Court, on the grounds that it did not comply with national or international standards since it would be surrounded by deep valleys on three sides and had no emergency landing area. It lost the case; the runway was built.
In the map above, if you click alternately on “Satellite” and “Terrain” it’s clear that the airport occupies the whole of a hilltop. Once the plane missed the runway, the only place to go was down into the valley.