Colombo Telegraph

Mihin Lanka Snoozing Pilot Breaks His Earlier Promise

Mihin Lanka’s Capt. Wagh was reported once before for sleeping on a commercial flight en route from Dhaka to Colombo last year, employees of the Sri Lanka’s budget airline told Colombo Telegraph yesterday.

Capt Gajendra Wagh

Capt. Wagh was reported recently to have fallen asleep at the flight controls when his First Officer Subki Lafir had stepped out of the cockpit. First Officer Lafir’s requests to gain re-entry were not granted due to Capt. Wagh being fast asleep inside. Even Chennai flight controls and a passing Sri Lankan Airlines aircraft failed in their bid to attract the snoozing captain’s attention. Lafir had then used the emergency override access code to finally gain re-entry.

In an earlier reported and documented story Capt. Wagh, who commutes very often just in time to operate his scheduled flights from his home town Bombay, had once got delayed coming into Colombo to operate his scheduled turn around flight to Jakarta. His subsequent flight to Jakarta was then operated by the Captain who was a scheduled to operate the flight Dhaka instead.

“Mihin Lanka then went on to delay our commercial flight to Dhaka whilst we awaited Capt. Wagh’s arrival to Colombo” said an airline official who spoke in anonymity as he is barred from speaking to the press.

“The First Officer who operated the Colombo/Dhaka/Colombo turn around flight with him subsequently went on to a submit an Air Safety Report (ASR) on this flight citing that the fatigued Capt. Wagh had fallen asleep during the journey” continued the airline official.

Colombo Telegraph reliably learns that Capt. Wagh had then provided written explanation taking responsibility for his initial snoozing lapse and stated that he would never repeat the offense again to the Director Flight Operations Capt. Pujitha Jayakody. Capt. Jayakody it is reported went on to hush up the incident thereafter and abruptly stopped the inquiry. “Perhaps if this incident was taken up in a more serious manner Capt. Wagh’s snoozing problems on the job could have been dealt with in a manner that a far more serious issue could have been prevented.” said the airline official.

But sadly Capt. Wagh went on to brake his promise on the 1st of May 2015 when he operated flight number MJ 408 from Sharjah to Colombo and almost created a catastrophic situation when he ended up locking his first officer out of the cockpit.

‘The Flight Operations Department of our airline is run in true military style at present by the former Army Commander Dennis Pereras’ son COO Capt. Druvi. Scant respect is shown by the COO and his appointed lackeys who go on to break laid down Standard Operation Procedures and aviation laws. Most Pilots simply just don’t bother filling out any safety related matters anymore as they have lost confidence in the way the system is run here especially by those in control of the FOD” concluded the airline representative.

“These comments sum up what would have happened otherwise been if the ‘Weliamuna Report’ was acted upon swiftly and those corrupt senior airline officials were suspended pending further inquiry.

The Board of Investigation’s findings into the corruption and malpractices into the government ordered and probed national carrier strangely finds all those who were exposed for abuse of power, corruption and fraud still remaining firmly in control within the airline. Now with the merge of the country’s low cost carrier these individuals are even dragging this airline down the same pit ” went on to say a senior official.

The “Weliamuna Report” severely criticized the COO Capt. Druvi Perera and clubbed him along with the former Chairman Nishantha Wickramasinghe and CEO Kapila Chandrasena, where Weliamuna had gone on to recommended that the former Chairman and CEO be prosecuted based on the BOI’s findings.

“Most gulf carriers who recruit expatriate pilots do have rules and regulations where ‘minimum rest’ should be spent at base. In this case the FOD of the low costs carrier’s Management have been continuously ignoring Capt. Wagh’s violation of this clause and it was only a matter of time before something serious happened. Or else are we speaking too soon?” a members of Pilots’ Guild questioned.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lankan headed by H.M.C. Nimalasiri has been turning a blind eye to many safety issues committed by both airlines. This by itself is shocking and warrants the immediate intervention of the Ministry of Aviation for the safety of both Sri Lankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka flights concerned that operate to and from Colombo.

However it is reliably learnt that after Colombo Telegraph‘s expose the flying licenses of both pilots have been revoked pending inquiry.

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