Friday, June 10, 2011

Air India.............What's your FATE?

Attached to a recent email I received from a colleague was an article on Air India explaining how criticism was growing about the airline. (Keep reading, there are pictures!)

The article began by stating that Bob Haygooni, a former United Airlines pilot who had been hired by Air India paid a mid flight visit to the cockpit of a flying aircraft to discover that the cockpit was enshrouded with a yellowish glow. The odd color was the result of the pilots having taped newspapers over the windows to keep the bright sunlight out. Mr. Haygooni stated that in 30 years of flying he had never seen anything like this before. If you have not read the article, here is the link: NY TIMES ARTICLE ON AIR INDIA

Since arriving and doing business in India, I have logged over 29,000 miles with Air India…….and while I have found the planes to be old, dirty and the interiors to be in disrepair, the in flight service from the flight attendants mediocre, and the food to be predictable, uncreative and almost inedible, I continued to fly them until I read this article.

What about how safe I felt? I consider myself to be quite perceptive, aware of my surroundings and humbly intelligent. In addition to all of the issues listed above, and what I had heard on the news about the recent crash that involved pilot error, or read in the paper of the strikes by staff shortly afterwards citing safety concerns, one might conclude that my self evaluation is wrong, or that I am on some type of mission of playing “Russian Roulette” with my life………believe it or not, I have never felt “Unsafe” flying on Air India………..inconvenienced, frustrated, disgusted, bitten by countless mosquitoes, sick to my stomach, and baffled YES……but never unsafe!

How could someone continue to fly an airline that had all of the tell tale signs of being a huge safety hazard? Is it stupidity, ignorance or something else?

Here is what it is:

1) I have been programmed to not believe everything I read or hear from the media.

2) I believe in GOD and I believe in FATE…….I believe that GOD is watching over me and that HE has pre-determined things that I am not in control of. While I have this belief, this does not mean that I would throw myself in front of a speeding car or lay on railroad tracks and believe that GOD would perform some miraculous feat………..

3) Remember, I am the same guy that had a brush with death on 26/11…………..see above…….I just simply put my life in GODS hands…………..and I have never boarded an aircraft thinking that I have placed my hands in the person who performs or does not perform maintenance on the aircraft, or the pilot or any of the countless people that even are literally responsible for keeping an aircraft airworthy and safe. Just like I don’t think about when I get on a bus, subway or in a taxi or rollercoaster………..I think a person would go mad and become a hermit and live his life in a padded room afraid to come out.

4) I believe in LIVING LIFE, not preventing my death………..

I am not sure how those of you feel when you read about my “philosophy” or my belief system. I would just hope that you would respect my philosophy and beliefs just as I respect your right to believe what you want to believe and practice.

The email and attached article I received on May 27th did cause me to put out an immediate edict and ban business travel on Air India for my team.

I believe that it was my FATE to receive the email in the manner I did, as I did not read the article in the newspaper myself on the day it was released for print………fate made me read it.

Just yesterday, while disembarking from a flight to Pune for business, I was walking past an Air India plane on the tarmac and FATE once again knocked at my door and caused me to look at the plane and notice that the cockpit had newspaper taped in the windows and it immediately brought back the reality of what I had read and reinforced that the decision I made just a few days earlier was the right one………and not a moment too soon.
This photo was taken on June 8, 2011 at the airport in Pune, India 13 days after a New York Times article story revealed that Air India Pilots tape newspaper in the windows of the cockpit while flying to block the sun

I was one of hundreds of passengers that walked past that airplane yesterday……..many may not have read the New York times article…………..some may have glimpsed at me taking a picture of the plane, but may not have noticed the newspapers………and still some further behind would not have noticed at all.


For those of you who subscribe to the “SEEING IS BELIEVEING” philosophy, maybe this blog entry and my pictures will cause you to rethink your choice of travel…….for those of you who read my blog, it could be your fate that brought you here. Some of you may feel that you should pass my blog onto friends, family or a colleague. You may also be in a position to change or recommend a change to your company’s travel policy.

Happy flying!


Anonymous said...

Respected Lloyd Sir,

Very Good Morning !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have gone through the article in the thread/link provided by you and had a spine chilling affect. The statement by a pilot that he felt like one woman having 1000 husbands aptly describes the state of affairs of Air India.

Your social awareness is very commendable and you have a very keen eye for perfection. Unfortunately, at Air India these qualities are seriously lacking thereby putting the valuable lives of passengers at risk.

Let us hope that things will improve.

Sir, please keep posting such thoughtful articles.

Warm regards
Srinivasa Rao

Anonymous said...

Dear Lloyd,

Thanks for sharing this. I must confess I stared closely at the pictures to see what was amiss and could not spot anything until I read the blog! As on old time Air India ( India Airlines) traveler, I must confess its time to return the Pauper Maharaja to the the care of the Tatas.

On another note, reading your bolgs, I am amazed at how rich and nuanced your observations of India are: and these are mostly about things we treat as mundane and take much for granted. We are back from a short vacation in the States and the impressions are fresh: the contrasts between the countries are immense and there is still something infinitely appealing about living the "American Dream". But like all travelers, at the end of the day, its good to be back home to the comforting embrace of our enduring chaos.




Anonymous said...

Hey Lloyd

thanks for this - i have put out an edict that all husbands with mouths to feed and wives who love them should not fly air india either. by the way, why is the guy under the plane in a wheelchair? hope all is well...ellen

Anonymous said...

There are some points i would like to share:

Ask any airline pilot in the world about what does he look outside during flying that helps him? Nothing! A few 100 feet after the takeoff and a few 100 feet before landing is the only time a pilot peeks out, that's because every airline pilot is instrument rated (a privilege to fly without any visual reference). The picture shown above is when an aircraft is parked, so big deal. And i love the way people put things in, "its a common practice in AI...".

Safety concerns of cockpit doors kept unlocked...Rubbish! nobody does that even the cabin crew has to punch in codes or request via intercom to enter.

A concern about inadequate practical knowledge of co-pilots in AI. Yes true, in India we have given a lot of importance to theory unlike US and other countries. but if that's a concern then what about mere 21-22 year old commanders in indigo and kingfishers? nobody ever raised any point on that. Its just that "ghar ki murgi daal ke jaisi"

check this link out:
this is probably only 10% of the reasons AI has reached this stage.

why cant people see the fact that AI now has one of the youngest fleets in the country and still it has a bulging debts and losses of more than 40,000 crore only since the last few years. That F#$%^* came in like a termite and eat it all.

think about it!

Lloyd said...

Anonymous......#4....thanks for visiting my blog......and when doing my own research on the internet, there seems to be pilots who are also on both sides of this issue. I am neither a pilot nor claim to be an expert on what is or is not Standard Operating Procedure when piloting an aircraft. However, like you, i am entitled to my opinion and I can make my own judgements and decisions based on the facts how I see them. In this case I have decided to cast a vote against AIR INDIA by voting with MY WALLET and MY COMPANY'S WALLET.....for My safety and for those who work for me. You can choose to continue to fly AI and I wish all that continue to fly them God's Blessings.

Just because we share a difference of opinion on this topic, I hope that you don't stop reading my blog. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, feelings, knowledge and insight on this issue and God Bless!

whaleswhale said...

i agree with 4th should feel pity our pilots paste news papers had asked around other leading airlines would have blinds..just joke..listen when pilots fly in and out of tropical countries the plain glass will not with stand the heat it would be like sitting in incubator..i would humbly suggest before commenting about an airline please do some logical thinking...for your kind information pilot skills required mostly at landing and taking off..have you not seen the pilot taking a stroll in to the passenger cabin...why have u not complained...before publish please investigate..i appreciate your concern..regads velu

Anonymous said...

Lloyd, if you were/are not an airline pilot then you should not/never comment on things like newspapers and cockpit windows. You are as illiterate about flying as a monkey gazing a busy street trying to figure out what a car is and how it works.

Lloyd said...

Dear Anonymous..........I first want to thank you for reading my blog and being so compelled to post a comment. Unlike other people who write blogs and choose not to publish such comments as yours, I do not mind doing so........I have always considered myself a very reasonable, objective and transparent human being (far from a monkey)......honestly.....perhaps your comments might have offended someone of lesser character......but I remain unscathed by your remarks.

A wise person once told me that "OPINIONS are like ASSHOLES......everyone has one" may read the words that were so aptly phrased by that wise man anyway you would like..........however, next time you choose to state your opinion on someones blog......leave your name and email address.......and be willing to be open to an objective rebuttal.........oh and by the way, while I do not have a private or commercial pilots license.......I have piloted an airplane on more than one occassion and would probably have a license if not for being color blind........while I do have an impairment to my eyesight that caused me to give up my flying lessons and other dreams I eyesight remains crystal clear enough to see newspapers in the windows of cockpits of commerical aircraft........and while you may have a difference of opinion, I remain steadfast in my belief that they do not belong taped in the windows of an aircraft....especially the cockpit.

Happy flying

gwl said...

Good ride........

hyd said...

This is really interesting…