Untrained pilots lands passenger jet in India, risking lives

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Vistara, an Indian joint venture of conglomerate Tata Group and Singapore Airlines Ltd., has been fined after a first officer landed a passenger flight without completing required training.

The incident, which occurred during a landing in the central Indian city of Indore, was a serious violation that endangered the lives of passengers on board, according to a senior official at the nation’s aviation regulator who declined to be identified talking about a confidential probe.


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The captain of the flight in August, which flew from New Delhi, also wasn’t simulator trained on how to guide a first officer during such landings, the official said.

The plane ultimately landed safely without incident and no one was hurt.

Vistara – 51 percent owned by India’s largest conglomerate Tata and remainder by Singapore Airlines - was fined one million rupees ($12,900), the official said.

Concerns about flying have escalated around the world, with rusty pilots returning to the cockpit after lengthy absences during COVID-19.

A global shortage of trained pilots has also hampered the aviation industry - one of the worst-hit sectors during the pandemic - hampering a faster-than-expected recovery in air travel.

Vistara gave takeoff and landing clearance to the first officer without conducting any training, the official said.

Both first officers and captains need to train on flight simulators before they can land, or even guide colleagues to land, an aircraft with passengers on board.

Vistara violated those norms, according to the official.

The pilots had adequate training to conduct a so-called supervised takeoff and landing, and their certificates were issued by a previous employer, for which Vistara claimed the credit, the airline said in a statement Thursday.

The incident, which Vistara voluntarily reported to regulators, was a “regrettable violation, and the pilots will be trained again to comply with regulations,” Vistara said.

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