After Goa and Kathmandu, Air India to stop flying to Kabul

Pilot association allege indifference of the airline management to their concerns of safety


Sweta Ranjan | April 15, 2011

Air India pilots have refused to fly to Kabul citing safety reasons.The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) has isued a directive asking the members to refrain from flying to the Afghan capital till the airport there is made snag free.

The move follows failure from the airline management to respond to the association's demand asking for withdrawal of flights. The directive which is to be implemented with immediate effect reads," As per the resolution passed by ICPA, all pilots are hereby directed not to undertake, repeat not to undertake any flight operations to kabul till all the safety issues are taken into consideration and sorted out in the interest of flight safety and security of our crew."

The pilots' union has demanded for clear-cut guidelines for flying to Afghanistan and other war-torn countries as such flights “put the life of the crew and passengers in danger”.

As Kabul airport is surrounded by high terrain, there is no special single engine procedure for Kabul which has the approval of ‘Civil Aviation Authority of Afghanistan’. The airspace is not free of conflicting traffic resulting in frequent occurances of traffic advisories and there is no special procedure for unlawful interference as has been devised after the Kandahar hijack of IC814.

Other major issues which is a matter of concern is poor quality of Air Traffic Control in troubled Afghanistan. There have been regular reports of vehicular movement affecting ILS signals, which can be fatal during low visibility.

There is unavailability of topographical maps of the region with the flight crew. The topographical maps are provided to the crew for sectors like Jammu, Srinagar, NorthEast but for a critical sector like Kabul the mandatory requirement is not fulfilled.

Poor quality of the runway at Kabul airport has always been a matter of concern, ICPA maintains. In case of grounding or night stopping there is no measure related to safety and security provided the crew, it notes.






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