Trainer aircraft crash landed near Pune; trainee pilot safe

Radhika Bansal

25 Jul 2022

The trainer aircraft crash-landed, when the student pilot of Carver Aviation, was flying it as a part of the training exercise. Fortunately, the 22-year-old trainee pilot, identified as Bhavika Rathod, suffered minor injuries. The pilot was admitted to Navjeevan Hospital in Shelgaon.

A major accident was averted on Monday, July 25 after a trainee pilot had a narrow escape when her aircraft crashed near Pune in Maharashtra.

The trainee aircraft crashed on a farm in Kadbanwadi village of Indapur taluka in Pune district today at around 11:20-11.30 am. The pilot was rescued by the villagers and given first aid. The trainee aircraft had taken the sortie from Baramati.

Fortunately, the 22-year-old trainee pilot, identified as Bhavika Rathod, suffered minor injuries.

“On 25.07.2022, Carver Aviation Cessna 152 aircraft VT-ALI on solo cross-country flight made a crash landing while 15 nm inbound to Baramati Airfield due to suspected power loss. No injury reported to cadet pilot,” said a statement by Arun Kumar, chief of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Union civil aviation minister, Jyotiraditya Scindia said, the incident is unfortunate and he is "praying for the recovery of the injured pilot, Ms Bhavika Rathod."

Carver Aviation is based in Baramati. The Carver Aviation and police personnel reached the accident spot and started investigating the cause of the accident. DCGA authorities are also present at the spot and an investigation is underway.

The Academy of Carver Aviation Pvt. Ltd was established on August 19, 1995. It is a DGCA (Director General of Civil Aviation, Govt. Of India) approved institution. The school is located in the rain shadow region of Baramati in Maharashtra.

In June 2022, a Red Bird flight training organisation (FTO) Tecnam P2008 aircraft had a hard landing on at Baramati runway in Maharashtra.

The trainer aircraft crash-landed, when the female pilot, a student of Carver Aviation, was flying it as a part of the training exercise.

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In the same month, a trainee aircraft was forced to land from the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi (IGRUA) at Fursatganj in Uttar Pradesh’s Raebareli. The DGCA had ordered a probe into the incident of a forced landing.

Cessna 152 aircraft VT-EUW crashed near the Birasal airstrip in Odisha in June 2022. The aircraft belonged to the pilot training organisation 'Gati'.

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Traffic Movement from Delhi airport's T3 to T1 suspended for 3 weeks

Jinen Gada

25 Jul 2022

Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport, New Delhi announced that due to the ongoing up-gradation work, traffic movement on the carriageway connecting terminal 3 (T3) to terminal (T1) of IGI airport, through the underpass, has been suspended for three weeks starting July 23, 2022.

With this change, it is advised for those who wish to travel from T3 to T1 to take National Highway (NH-48 or the old NH-8) to get to T1 through the Radisson roundabout. The highway that goes from T1 to T3 will continue to be used to move traffic from Delhi Airport’s T1 terminal.

It is worth noting that due to the suspension of traffic movement the travel time from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1 will increase to 20-25 minutes from the current 10-15 minutes for the next three weeks.

The road connecting Delhi airport terminal T3 to T1 to remain closed for 3 weeks 

People who have booked connecting flights that require a change of terminal are advised to ensure extra time or, if the connecting flight has less time, they can change the flight altogether to avoid no-shows.

The work on a flyover is underway as part of the Phase 3A expansion project and hence, the traffic movement on one side of the carriageway will be prohibited for three weeks, airport sources said.  

The phase 3A expansion work has been planned to cater to the expected increase in air traffic in the future. As part of the expansion project, the integrated T-1, where work is underway, will have arrival and departure terminals under one roof.

Delhi Airport is the busiest one in India in terms of passenger traffic and cargo.

The upgraded T-1 will double its capacity from 20 million passengers per annum to 40 million passengers per annum. The other development plans under the project include a fourth runway, dual elevated eastern cross taxiways, landside developments for circulation and connectivity improvements and T-3 modification work.  

Among the T-3 modifications are increasing the international transfer area, adding of seventh check-in island and associated baggage handling system. After the upgradation, T-3’s capacity is estimated to go up from 34 million passengers per annum to 45 million passengers per annum.

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Air India to lease 400,000 sq ft office space in Gurugram

Radhika Bansal

25 Jul 2022

Air India is in talks to lease about 400,000 sq ft of office space at Vatika’s office complex in Gurugram, Haryana.

The erstwhile national airline now owned by the Tata Group has already signed a letter of intent (LoI) for about 200,000 sq ft with the option of doubling the space later. The airline will shift all offices to this building, one of them said. Other Tata airlines – Vistara and AirAsia – may also shift to the same complex later.

“Air India is planning to consolidate and was initially looking for a property with Tata Realty, but that building is part of SEZ. Now, they have decided to move to this building, which is on the National Highway,” said one of the people aware of the deal.

Air India to lease 400,000 sq ft office space in Gurugram

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The Vatika project, One on One, on National Highway 8 is spread across 2.2 million sq ft and is being developed in two phases with an investment outlay of INR 1,200 crore. CBRE India facilitated the deal.

According to a report from Bussiness Today, Air India Executive Director Harpreet A De Singh has been given the responsibility to complete the transition. Singh will be assisted by consultants from Ernst & Young and a team of professionals from Tata Realty, it said.

Air India has a total of 12,085 employees of which 8,084 are permanent and 4,001 are contractual.

The Indian commercial real estate (CRE) office market saw net absorption rise 62% sequentially in the quarter ended June to 9.6 million sq ft, the best quarterly performance since the quarter ended December 2019 which saw 10.7msf of net absorption, according to a report by ICICI Securities.

The Tata group took over the management of Air India on January 27 after winning the bid for the airline on October 8 last year. Air India has a total of 12,085 employees of which 8,084 are permanent and 4,001 are contractual. Air India Express, its low-cost international arm, has 1,434 employees.

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(With Inputs from The Economic Times)

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Lenders of Jet Airways threaten bankruptcy over aircraft rental revenues

Radhika Bansal

24 Jul 2022

Lenders of Jet Airways led by the State Bank of India could push the airline into liquidation if the winning bidder, the Jalan-Kalrock consortium, disagrees on distributing the proceeds from aircraft rentals among the financing banks, The Economic Times has reported.

Jet Airways owes a lot of cash to many lenders and stakeholders, including ex-employees and ticket claimants. So, any source of revenue for the airline is being carefully observed, with attempts being made to direct the funds to those demanding their money back.

Aircraft rentals to Air Serbia have, so far, yielded about INR 108 crore. The amount is parked with the SBI. The report said the banks conveyed to the winning bidder that they would apply for liquidation if lease rentals were not distributed to the verified lenders, citing sources.

Lenders of Jet Airways threaten bankruptcy over aircraft rental revenues

The Jalan-Kalrock group has proposed INR 380 crores in phased payments. These include a one-time payment of INR 185 crores and a two-year payment of 195 crores following the implementation of the plan.

Additionally, lenders would get a 9.5% ownership of the airlines. However, a portion of the money used to pay the creditors comes from the sale of assets belonging to Jet Airways. Only 5% of the lenders’ claims are recovered, which limits the negative effects of a firm liquidation.

The Jalan-Kalrock consortium has sought time until next week for a decision. The resolution plan approved by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) is silent on the distribution of the lease rentals, leading to a dispute between the lenders to the distressed airline and the winning bidder.

Jet Airways was grounded in April 2019 due to its failure to pay for fuel and lease rentals.

Although the NCLT approved the Jalan-Kalrock plan in June 2021, the consortium has not yet paid the lenders. As the new owner of Jet Airways was working on receiving regulatory clearances, the implementation of the plan was delayed.

Civil aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) reinstated Jet's air operators’ certificate in May 20222. Jet Airways was grounded in April 2019 due to its failure to pay for fuel and lease rentals.

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Jet Airways is near a deal to buy 50 A220 jets from Airbus. "We are in an advanced stage of discussions with lessors and OEMs (manufacturers) for aircraft, and we will announce our aircraft choice and fleet plans as we make our decisions," a spokesperson for Jet Airways said.

(With Inputs from The Economic Times)

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Can a C-130J Super Hercules be flown autonomously? Merlin Labs might have the answer


23 Jul 2022

As pilot shortages continue and automation seems inevitable, the U.S. Air Force is partnering with a Boston-based technology company, Merlin Labs, to test using an autonomous co-pilot on its C-130J Super Hercules cargo transport plane.

The Economic Times

The technology is touted to be advanced auto-copilot, designed to take over the responsibilities of one crew member in flight while being supervised by a human pilot. Reportedly, the software can also steer and maintain an aircraft’s course in flight, even in turbulence and harsh weather.

Merlin’s avionics system uses GPS, inertial navigation systems, air data, and altitude and heading reference systems to establish an aircraft’s current position and altitude. The system performs actions using actuators connected to the plane, which are directed by the onboard flight computer.

The business case is relatively simple: in a world of increasing transportation costs and a global shortage of pilots, autonomy can help to ease the burden of cost on companies, and at the same time can increase safety for pilots themselves, who now have an always-on, alert, and intelligent robotic co-pilot within the airframe they’re already familiar with says Merlin Labs CEO Matthew George

Mathew George | Cargo Facts Symposium

According to George, the Merlin Pilot is “a box that goes into the aircraft”. Depending on the aircraft, a bunch of different interfaces allow the Merlin pilot and the Merlin intelligence to be able to go and control the aircraft surfaces. It is intended to steer the plane by skipping the physical interface and going directly to the electrical control and may not quite literally handle the yoke controlling roll, pitch, and yaw.

Given the fact that this technology is still in its infancy, the company is hiring human factors scientists to figure out the best relation between the Merlin pilot-in-a-box and a human overseer.

Representative | Thai Military and Asian Region

One particularly unique aspect of Merlin’s product is its use of speech recognition to interface with air traffic controllers. The system had to be trained on a range of accents and voice types to ensure it was genuinely robust and useful-says George. He was also quick to add that the human pilot would take over in instances where it would fail.

Philosophically, we believe that air traffic control needs to be able to interact with an autonomous aircraft. The system present-day is designed to be talked to just like a human pilot and will respond just like a human pilot, albeit with a slightly funny voice says George

However, the software would not be able to detect obstacles, such as birds in the sky or cars on a runway.

Merlin is working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States and the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as the first regulators for certifying its pilot.

In a world where pilots are becoming more scarce, we can enable pilots to be able to go perform other missions where human brains are even more needed. The Air Force, I think, has picked the C-130J as the first testbed for this because it’s the most ubiquitous transport aircraft out there. It is a really good platform to start to think about autonomy in the cockpit in a very real and practical wayGeorge

Reportedly, the company has previously said that it expects to see autonomous flights that can take off, navigate, land and converse with air traffic control as soon as 2023.


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Airlines asked not to charge additional fees for issuing a boarding pass at airports

Radhika Bansal

23 Jul 2022

Airlines can't charge any additional fee for issuing a boarding pass at check-in counters in airports, the aviation ministry said on Thursday, July 21.

Airlines such as IndiGo, SpiceJet and Go First currently charge a fee of INR 200 if a passenger wants the boarding pass to be issued at the check-in counter.

"It has come to the notice of MoCA (Ministry of Civil Aviation) that airlines are charging an additional amount for issuing boarding passes from the passengers," the ministry said on Twitter.

This additional amount is not by the instructions according to the provisions of Aircraft Rules, 1937, it said.

Given the above, the airlines are advised not to charge any additional amount for issuing boarding passes at the airport check-in counters, as the same cannot be considered within the 'tariff' as provided under Rule 135 of the Aircraft Rules, 1937.

Airlines asked not to charge additional fees for issuing a boarding pass at airports

On May 21, 2020, the ministry made it mandatory for passengers to do web check-in and get a boarding pass then itself.

With the new notification in place, while passengers are still encouraged to do web check-in and generate an electronic boarding pass on their phones if a passenger is required to print a boarding pass at the airport counter, the airlines cannot charge any additional amount.

However, at a time when record high jet fuel prices and record low rupee-US dollar exchange rate have forced airlines to steeply hike fares, this will mean only a marginal relief to only those domestic passengers who prefer to stand in serpentine airport queues to check in instead of doing so online.

On May 21, 2020, the ministry made it mandatory for passengers to do web check-in and get a boarding pass then itself.

High jet fuel prices and a falling rupee have affected the recovery in air traffic that was being witnessed post Omicron wave.

However, on May 9, 2022, the ministry issued an order stating that airlines should encourage, facilitate and guide the passengers in doing "timely web check-in and bag tag printing" and "minimise or avoid" imposing penal charges on passengers who have not done web check-in.

The ministry said the practice of airlines charging an additional fee for issuing boarding passes at airport check-in counters is not by the May 9 order.