Colombo Telegraph

SriLankan Airlines: Compromising Flight Safety Chairman Dias Adamant In Passing Out CEO Ratwatte Despite Hushed Safety Blunder

SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ajith Dias despite compromising flight safety training is hell bent on having his CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte passed out as a qualified Airbus 320 pilot, even if it means he has to tender his resignation.

Ajith Dias

This is after his deputy CEO Ratwatte was involved in a serious ‘tail strike’ blunder during his Simulator Training which was not documented by his handpicked and appointed Instructor Capt. Mohan Pragasam.

The saga in granting of a virtual scholarship to the CEO costing the tax payer around US $ 50,000, has now snowballed to such an effect that Chairman Ajith Dias has in an unprecedented move ordered Capt. Rajind Ranantunga the Head of Flight Operations to hand over the entire Crew Rostering Department to Pradeepa Kekualawela the airline’s Head of Human Resources.

According to an email sent by the Chairman to Capt. Rajind Ranatunga his instructions was that this transfer process be completed and made effective from 1st of July 2017.

This is after Capt. Ranatunga had only a few days ago written to CEO Ratwatte and asked him to ‘back off’, after the CEO had muscled his way and got his assigned Line Flying Instructor changed to an Instructor of his choice for his first flight scheduled for the 12th of July 2017.

Earlier Capt. Ratwatte had also used his authority and had selected Instructors of his preference to visit his office at the World Trade Center and conduct personal Ground School Training Classes, besides seeking the help of two Simulator Instructor Captains to conduct his Simulator Training and Final Check.

This is where it came to light that Capt. Mohan Pragasam a retired Captain compromising flight safety had refrained from documenting the incident involving CEO Ratwatte, when he had hit the tail of the aircraft on the ground, during his training phase.

Meanwhile the Board of Directors shot down Chairman Dias’ idea of transferring the Crew Scheduling Department to Human Resources, when it was brought up for discussion at the Board Meeting last Thursday. The Board of Directors also declined to approve of a further promotion to HHR Pradeepa Kekulawela which was proposed by Chairman Dias, when it was brought up too for discussion and approval.

Chairman Dias despite not having his Board of Directors approval is still going ahead with his decision. He now claims that he does not require approval of the Board of Directors when making an internal restructure and reallocation of processes as and when deemed necessary by the airline. Incidentally even the approval of the Director General Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka has not been sought regarding this issue.

As a global aviation practice majority of the world’s successful airlines bring the Crew Scheduling Department under the responsibility of a Post Holder of the airline or the Flight Operational Department Head, as many functions conducted by Crew Rostering require the blessings of the Civil Aviation Authority of each respective country.

Meanwhile Colombo Telegraph reliably learns that this sinister move being currently implemented by Chairman Dias, is to help facilitate the smooth training and passing out of the CEO Suren Ratwatte’s Airbus 320 conversion training and rating to fly the much smaller aircraft as opposed to the double decker Airbus 380 he once flew when employed with Emirates Airline.

Capt. Ranatunga is due to officially inform the Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka of this move this coming Tuesday only after the process is fully implemented.

Meanwhile in a startling revelation Colombo Telegraph reliably learns that during his Simulator Training, Capt. Suren Ratwatte had been involved in a ‘tail strike’. A tail strike is when the tail of the aircraft hits the runway during the phases of either a takeoff or landing maneuver.

The sensitivity involving the training of a CEO and the reporting of such safety flaws and moreover the covering up of such incidents causes serious violations and compromises flight safety.

However it is understood that the reporting of such an incident only jeopardizes the income of retired pilots who are offered training contracts of such nature.

Currently SriLankan Airlines uses the services of several Captains who were medically condemned from flying and those retired, who usually are at the Management’s mercy due to the vast income generated as Simulator Instructors.

For instance the airline at present uses the services of Capt. Javed Aleem who at 72 years of age conducts classes almost immediately after completing kidney dialysis. Captain Duleep De Awis who was also medically condemned from flying due to a heart condition and is now way past his retirement age along with Capt. Mohan Pragasam are a few of such individuals handpicked for such training.

The danger associated with offering such contracts to medically condemned and retired pilots is due to the challenges posed when having to train a CEO such as Capt. Suren Ratwatte.

However it is now being brought to light that the CEO was hesitant in flying with the currently active and Flying Instructor Capt. Amjad Shafeek, an assertive professional who maintains strict discipline and a no nonsense attitude and handpicked Capt. Ranga Amadoru instead to complete his first Line Training Flight, stating that he would be more comfortable flying with an instructor of his choice.

However with the refusal of the Head of Flight Operations Capt. Rajind Ranatunga in giving into the demands of the CEO’s handpicking of virtually all his Ground, Simulator and Line Training Check Pilots for his conversion checks, it now is apparent that under Pradeepa Kekulawela the Chairman can help facilitate the entire process to have the CEO back to flying.

The hurried move now taking place in transferring the ownership of the Crew Scheduling Department to Human Resources is as the Flight Operations Department has once again scheduled the CEO Suren Ratwatte to fly with Check Capt. Amjad Shafeek on two back to back Line Training Flights. This time the CEO is scheduled to start his Line Training Flights with the first rescheduled on the 9th of July to Tiruchirappalli and the second on the 12th of July to Trivandrum.

Meanwhile just prior to publication Colombo Telegraph was made to understand that CEO Suren Ratwatte, fearful of flying with Capt. Amjad Shafeek has informed the Head of Flight Operations that he now wishes to take two weeks of annual leave midway from his current conversion course, as he wishes spend time with his family who reside in Australia.

Granting of such annual leave midway during a conversion course is usually granted by the airline only in the event of emergencies experienced, such as a family bereavement or when experiencing medical or psychological trauma. (Chamindri Karannagoda)

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