A Mihin Lanka Captain was found snoozing in the cockpit of a commercial flight en route to Colombo, whilst his First Officer of the low cost carrier was locked out the airline’s sources told Colombo Telegraph yesterday.
The panic stricken Mihin Lanka First Officer (F/O) of flight MJ 408 Subki Lafir and the cabin crew returning from Sharjah on the 1st of May 2015, finally succeeded in their frantic bid to gain re-entry into the flight deck by using the emergency ‘overriding’ access code, after the F/O found himself locked out by his operating Captain Wagh, who was subsequently found fast asleep at the flight controls.
“The First Officer and the Flight Purser Rozeena were relieved to finally gain entry into the Flight Deck after they found themselves in a carbon copied situation that the fateful crew of ‘German Wings’ found themselves in recently ”, inside sources from within the airline told Colombo Telegraph yesterday.
Coincidentally the F/O Lafir could not have found a more appropriate day than the 1st of May to make that dreaded cockpit distress call ‘May Day! May Day! May Day!’.
However in this instance he made this call out to his Flight Purser Rozeena, who together with him managed to eventually gain entry to the Flight Deck by using the secret code designed for such emergency purposes.
Captain Wagh an Indian national is reported to frequently commute from his home town in Bombay to operate his scheduled flights, even though he has his own accommodation in Seeduwa, a town which is located closer to Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport Katunayake.
However on this particular day it was further reported that he arrived from Bombay in the morning of 30th April 2015 and headed to the Mihin Lanka office in Colombo to complete some official work.
“Obviously Capt. Wagh was not fully rested for this long night turn around flight, even though he was provided with adequate time to rest by the airline. This is probably the reason why he was fatigued on the return sector” said a Cabin Crew member of the budget carrier.
What is interesting to know is why the airline’s newly introduced safety rule was not applied by Capt. Wagh and F/O Lafir, where a Cabin Crew Member now needs to be positioned in the flight deck whenever one of the ‘two man’ cockpit crew steps out.
This amended safety rule was made by Mihin Lanka when it was recommended to all airlines after the low cost carrier ‘German Wings’ recently experienced a similar situation.
In that fatal accident the F/O of that airline locked out his Captain in flight and in a successful suicidal bid went onto to crash the aircraft in true ‘Kamikaze’ style killing all on aboard into the mountain range of the French Alps.
However the duration that the F/O remained out of the flight deck is also of importance, as it is now identified that if a person falls asleep for over 20 minutes his body’s ‘circadian rhythm’ can send him into a deep sleep thereafter.
It is still unsure if the F/O Lafir is yet to file an Air Safety Report (ASR) regarding this incident, as Colombo Telegraph can confirm that Capt. Wagh has gone on to operate three more commercial flights since this incident.
However Gerald Mendis Mihin Lanka’s In Flight Services Consultant did confirm to Colombo Telegraph that Flight Purser Rozeena had officially informed Manager Manique Rodrigo and also him about this incident in an email the following day.
“You can’t blame our Captains for sleeping in the sky as equally our senior management are frequently caught napping on ground when it comes to safety related matters. A complete overhaul needs to take place within the senior management of the Flight Operations Department (FOD) if we are to keep this an airline safe” said a rather disgruntled airline official.
“Capt. Wagh is probably the only Pilot who could easily sleep through even a thunderstorm, as he has been caught napping on several occasions by many F/O’s who strangely have not officially reported it” continued the airline official.
It was also shockingly reported that the flight control tower in Chennai had failed in their bid to get through to flight MJ 408 on many occasions when Capt. Wagh was fast asleep at the flight controls. A passing Sri Lankan Airlines aircraft had also failed in their attempt to get in contact with MJ 408 during Capt.Wagh’s period of slumber, where they had gone on to use the emergency frequency.
One cannot blame the sentiments of these airline’s officials as it has now been frequently reported that the Chief Operating Officer (COO) Capt. Druvi Perera’s competencies as a ‘Pilot and an Administrator’ was both exposed in the ‘Weliamuna Report’, which has left many bemused as to how he still mysteriously continues to remain holding his posts overlooking both airlines.
His appointed Manager Flight / Ground Safety Capt. Keminda Yahampath’s whose position is yet to be endorsed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of Sri Lanka is also reported to be as tainted as his COO on his own pilot related incidents.
Whilst Capt. Yahampath was more famous to have burst the tires of the aircraft he commanded into Trivandrum prior to his promotion and quizzical appointment, his boss COO Capt. Druvi’ Perera’s commanded flight skidded off the runway in Chennai going on to damage the landing strip and lights where it was all hushed up during the times the country was run by the Rajapaksas. The Director Flight Operations (DFO) Capt. Pujitha Jayakody’s character is also questionable where he was reported to have being apprehended and remanded by the local police in Singapore for ‘shoplifting’. With a pending court case for his theft, Capt. Jayakody has avoided setting foot in the ‘Lion City’ for the past 25 years.
“That pretty much sums up the management of Mihin Lanka’s flight operations department who runs the safety part of the flying business.” said our source.
The disparity and inconsistencies displayed by the senior management that now commands both airlines since the merge is where in another Sri Lankan Airlines reported incident Capt. Anupama Pathirane and his F/O are currently grounded pending inquiry into an incident on that took place on their flight from Trichy to Colombo last year.
However in this instance the Mihin Lanka Capt. Wagh and F/O Lafir still continue in their flying roles.
“The entire nation continues to watch in horror as many safety related incidents reported in the media is being ignored by the Chairman Ajit Dias of both Sri Lankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka, his Board of Directors and moreover H.M.C. Nimalasiri the Director General of Civil Aviation of Sri Lanka.”l amented a very senior airport official.
“However what is more serious about this incident is as to why the airline’s management has turned a blind eye especially when this incident took place in international air space. The seriousness of the non-held inquiry up to now is as serious as the incident itself, that now warrants an immediate investigation into the management of the flight operations department” the senior airport official further said.