New Delhi, July 18: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Thursday allowed two "grounded" pilots of Vistara airlines to resume their flying duties till the final investigation report comes in, according to reports. The pilots were grounded by the DGCA on Tuesday a day after they had issued a 'Mayday' distress call due to low-fuel near Lucknow airport while operating a Mumbai-Delhi flight.
"Both the pilots have been permitted by the DGCA to resume their flying duties. However, the final decision regarding them would be taken once the final investigation report comes in," a source was quoted by PTI as saying. The two pilots were flying Vistara airlines' UK944 flight on Monday when their aircraft almost ran out of fuel. As many as 153 passengers were on board when the plane narrowly escaped an aerial mishap. DGCA Grounds More Than 20 Pilots in July Over Aircraft Related Incidents and Violation of Norms.
The Delhi-bound flight was diverted to Lucknow due to bad weather in the national capital. However, the visibility over Lucknow airport dropped so the pilots started to consider if they should land at Kanpur or Prayagraj airport. However, the aircraft was not carrying enough fuel to travel the extra distance due to the diversion. Subsequently, the pilots had issued a "Fuel Mayday" call. DGCA Issues 'Air Safety Circular' For Airlines For Monsoon Operations.
The pilots then landed at Lucknow airport. However, the airline in a statement said: "En route Prayagraj, the Lucknow ATC (air traffic controller) informed the crew that the weather in Lucknow had improved significantly following which the crew decided to return to Lucknow due to better passenger and aircraft support."
"The unexpected drop in visibility at the destination alternate was the main reason why the aircraft ended up in a low-fuel situation despite carrying excess fuel over and above the required Flight Plan Fuel as per regulations. Safety of passengers and crew was kept at the highest priority throughout the flight," a Vistara spokesperson said.
The pilot-in-command must declare a situation of fuel emergency by broadcasting “Mayday Mayday Mayday Fuel”, when the calculated usable fuel estimated to be available upon landing at the nearest airport — where a safe landing can be made — is less than the planned final reserve fuel, as per DGCA rules.