New Delhi: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in its investigation report related to air scare on Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s flight in April has ruled out any conspiracy and blamed human error for a situation that led the plane to descend to dangerous levels after auto disengagement for 24 seconds.
The DGCA report said that a yaw damper failure occurred due to intermittent behaviour of FCC 2, this caused the auto pilot to disengage and the aircraft went into excessive right bank with altitude loss. Due to lack of situational awareness, the crew’s actions to control of the aircraft manually were slightly delayed.
An inquiry was ordered after reports claimed that Gandhi’s flight had “nosedived” en route to Hubli in Karnataka in April this year and the Congress had alleged a foul play in the incident.
However, the DGCA inquiry ruled out any conspiracy. “It was observed that the aircraft (VT-AVH) was cruising at FL 410 (41,000 feet) when auto pilot tripped. As the auto pilot tripped, both the crew observed YD (white) on Pilot Function Display (PFD). However the crew did not realize that the aircraft has gone into a bank with yaw damper failure. The crew only realized when the bank angle warning came at 45 degree i.e after 13 seconds of autopilot disengagement,” the report said.
“The bank angle kept on increasing with altitude loss and reached a maximum of 64.95 degrees i.e 15 seconds after the auto pilot disengagement and altitude loss of 735 ft from the assigned flight level. The crew initiated corrective action to control the aircraft altitude 15 seconds after the auto pilot disengagement. The aircraft was finally recovered to straight and level flight after 24 seconds from the autopilot disengagement. From the above it is inferred that the crew actions were slightly delayed to take the corrective actions,” the report added.
Gandhi was in Aircraft VT-AVH during his campaign trail in Karnataka assembly elections. “The PIC actions were slightly delayed as he took over control manually only after the warning was activated. This delayed actions caused the aircraft to reach high bank angle value and altitude loss which created panic and scare for the passengers in the cabin,” the report said.
The DGCA has recommended corrective training for the cockpit crew and regulatory audit of the airline to check the compliance of regulations.