Air India Puts Onus on Crew to Check Their Covid-19 Report After Pilot Tests Positive Mid-Flight
Image for Representation (PTI)
Day after an Air India aircraft flying to Moscow was called back after the pilot tested positive for COVID-19, the state-run carrier said that it has initiated an internal inquiry into the incident.
In a circular released on Saturday, Air India said every effort would be made to ensure that the reports are checked before crew are being rostered for the flights, but added it was imperative that the individual crew members also check and reconfirm their results.
"The Covid-19 test is being conducted by the airline at a substantial cost, with considerable effort," the statement said. It added that as it was a recent procedure and there is a shortage of staff at the office, there is a possibility of oversight in the matter.
"In case of any oversight in this matter, not only are there avoidable adverse operational issues, tarnishing the image of the airline, but also irresponsible exposure to fellow crew members to this disease," the circular continued.
"There it is MANDATORY for every individual crew member to check and confirm a 'NEGATIVE' report result before undertaking the flight," it added.
It further said that any laxity in the matter would be dealt with severity.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) also said it had launched a probe into the matter.
The VT-EXR Air India Flight was on its way to Moscow on Saturday, under the Vande Bharat Mission to bring back stranded Indians. Somewhere near Uzbekistan, the crew was informed that one of the pilots onboard has tested positive for Covid19 and they were called back immediately, as per protocol.
This was a ferry flight, so only the crew was on board, around 6 people. Sources say it was a ‘genuine oversight’ as the pilot’s COVID positive report was misread as negative in the pre-flight checks.
“It is believed to be a human error and as soon as it was realised, it was rectified,” an Air India source said. The aircraft landed back in Delhi around 12:45 pm, and was deep-cleaned and sanitised as per protocol.
The infected pilot and the rest of the crew have been quarantined.