Mihin Lanka‘s Director Flight Operations Capt. Pujitha Jayakody‘s attempt in hushing up the budget carrier’s second safety related incident in the month of May, had its lid blown off when the Director Flight Safety Susantha De Silva of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ordered his Inspector Capt.Anton Kiel to retrieve the flight plans and documents of MJ 603/604 from the airline’s office in Katunayake. “The safety related flight incident reported to the CAA by a third party had operated on the 24th of May 2015 from Colombo to Jakarta and back, with an untrained ‘Extended Twin Engine Operation’ (ETOPS) Cadet Pilot on board ” confirmed De Silva the CAA official to Colombo Telegraph.
In this incident MJ flight 603/604 which took off had operated its commercial flight with the normal crew compliment (Captain and a Co-Pilot) with Capt. Adrian Cramer also an Instructor in command. Along with him was an untrained and unqualified ETOPS Cadet Pilot, who had not attended his ground course and simulator training prior to operating this ETOPS flight.
The Cadet Pilot subsequently had commenced his ETOPS ground classes only Wednesday the 3rd of June 2015, ten days after operating this flight to Jakarta.
There was no official report of this incident sent to the CAA by the Flight Operations Department of Mihin Lanka when the incident was reported to them for investigation on the 9th of June 2015.
“It was a pleasant surprise thereafter to receive an official intimation of what had transpired by DFO Capt. Jayakody only after the CAA had begun to investigate into this matter. This practice of hushing up serious safety issues of this nature is not acceptable. It appears now that the management of the Flight Operations Department was hoping this incident would go undetected and Capt.Cramer would be given a slap on the wrists for this oversight as the commander of that flight. It took over 15 days for the DFO Capt. Jayakody to inform us and that too after the whistle was blown to us by a third party” said De Silva.
“I have ordered a comprehensive report from DFO Capt.Jayakody into this incident as even the newly appointed Manager Flight / Ground Safety Capt.Keminda Yahampath of Sri Lankan Airlines who overlooks both airlines was clueless of this incident” continued De Silva .
“Mihin Lanka’s Chief Pilot Training and Standards Capt. Themiya Abeywickrama should have handled this matter better and even kept the Flight Crew Rostering Department of the Cadet Pilot batch’s current training progress. However the very next day the Training Department had subsequently sent the ‘Trainees Progress Report’ to all concerned including Captains of the airline to keep them abreast of their Cadet Pilots’ progress. It will be interesting to see the final report when it is finished as every effort to avoid repetitions of this nature is important ” concluded the and Director Flight Safety of the CAA.
The low cost carrier’s safety issues came to light earlier in the month of May when Colombo Telegraph reported an incident relating to its Capt. Gajendra Wagh who fell asleep at the controls on MJ 408 flight from Sharjah to Colombo. This was when his First Officer had stepped out of the flight deck for a call of nature. The First Officer on that flight had no choice but to re-enter the flight deck by using the ‘cockpit door overriding system’ since he could not wake up his snoozing Captain.
The Cadet Pilots Batch’s ‘Training Progress Report’ as of 10th June 2015 highlighting ETOPS clearance in ‘Pending’ state;