Once hailed among Covid-19 heroes for going beyond the call of responsibility to ferry life-saving drugs and coronavirus samples for testing, a pilot in Madhya Pradesh finds himself with an Rs 85 crore bill for damages of an airplane flown by him last year which crash-landed in Gwalior airbase.
Directorate of Civil Aviation, MP
Capt Majid Akhtar, a senior pilot with the Directorate of Civil Aviation, MP; was flying the aircraft carrying life-saving drugs and Covid-19 samples, when it crash-landed at Gwalior’s Maharaja airbase last year on May 6, 2021. The aircraft had accidentally hit the arrestor barrio while landing. The aircraft was taking remdesivir injections from Ahmedabad when it crash-landed in Gwalior and was to leave for Jabalpur.
The airbase offers flight operations to both IAF and commercial aircraft.
- Last week, the Directorate of Civil Aviation gave the pilot an Rs 85 crore bill in a charge sheet for damages caused to the aircraft in the told incident in Gwalior last year. The damages included Rs 60 crore damage of the aircraft and Rs 25 crore for the directorate incurred on hiring planes from private operators after the aircraft of the State government was damaged.
In the response submitted to the charge sheet, Akhtar claimed that the accident was caused by the arrestor barrier on the runway about which the Air Traffic Control (ATC) failed to tell him during the landing.
He maintained that he made the best likely efforts to avoid the threat to those on board and the airbase. He pleaded ignorance about the calculation of Rs 60 crore loss caused to the aircraft saying he wasn’t aware of it as he was unaware about the directorate of aviation MoU with USA-based aircraft maker, insurance norms, and others.
He has cited his flight record of 27 years and also claimed that he wasn’t presented details of the black box which has the details of ‘incomplete’ ATC rules.
Khan also mentioned his services as a pilot in the first and second Covid wave claiming he was among the first few pilots to take to the cockpit for Covid-19 services in the first wave of the pandemic.
Along with his fellow pilot, Khan was widely hailed for his selfless services during the pandemic as he flew life-saving drugs and transported thousands of samples for testing wearing PPE kits.
Majid Khan who had been flying about Chief Ministers, Governors, and VVIPs in the service traveling over two decades and a half, had told in the past, “I am lucky enough to have earned this chance to do this important job.” His wife too had contributed to the fight against coronavirus as a doctor.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan
After the crash landing, it was revealed that the nine-seater 250 beech-aircraft had no insurance cover. The aircraft was exclusively for the use of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Directly after the mishap, Director Civil Aviation B Vijay Datta had said that the insurance issue was being scrutinized and nothing could be told immediately.
The director could not be reached for comments. The aircraft which was reduced to scrap had seen the pilot, co-pilot, and a tehsildar creating a miraculous escape after the accident. The pilot and co-pilot had sustained minor injuries.
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Subsequently, the Directorate of Civil Aviation has suspended the flying license of Akhtar for a year and the Accident Investigation Bureau also is probing into the case.
The charge sheet also holds Akhtar responsible for not keeping his license valid after the mishap, and the pilot had responded that licenses of pilots in the past have been suspended and generally reinstated later on.
He pleaded in the reply that he should not be pronounced guilty before the DGCA completes its probe.
State government chopper
Sources also claimed that the State government chopper bought by the MP government too is flying around without insurance. Sources claimed that the civil aviation officials had begun steps to discover an insurer day ahead of the crash of the Beechcraft 250. The state plane was bought in 2019 at a cost of near Rs 65 crore.
Narendra Saluja, the media coordinator of MPCC chief Kamal Nath commenting on the issue expressed that the notice in the crash case has been sent to the pilot who rendered selfless services in the pandemic. He counted that the department lies with the Chief Minister so the information should be served to him and the Principal Secretary concerned.
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