The civil aviation regulator DGCA has cautioned airlines about the dangers of operating during monsoon and stormy conditions, especially at a time when a cyclone is barrelling towards Maharashtra and Gujarat and after a prolonged period of not taking to the skies due to the coronavirus lockdown.
In an "operations circular" to the airlines, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation reminded them of the challenges of operating big passenger jets during monsoon as this season usually sees dust storms, thunderstorms, strong winds and hail, among others.
Flight operators must opt for more experienced pilots during monsoon, the aviation regulator said, issuing several guidelines.
"It should be understood that the requirement is the minimum experience (cockpit experience), wherever possible Operators should strive to have a level higher than the minimum, especially in cases where both crew members are operating after a long gap in flying," it said in a statement, adding, "The crew should also endeavour to keep themselves updated with required weather information from all available sources."
Contending that runway conditions have a direct impact on aircraft performance, DGCA said that the pilots should have an understanding of the conditions, which should be taken into account in "performance calculations".
"Fuel uplift calculation should be done very judiciously and it should take into account enroute and destination weather and trend forecast. Selection of a suitable destination alternate is also an important aspect during adverse and monsoon conditions," it said.
"Prevailing wind conditions at departure should be taken into account for performance calculations, any significant deviation, especially an increase in tail wind conditions and runway surface conditions should warrant performance to be re-calculated prior to take-off," it added.
While avoiding bad weather on the route, the availability of fuel should be constantly monitored. "…use of anti-ice devises may end up consuming more than the planned fuel for such activity," it said.
When a flight takes diversion, all available and latest information needed by the pilot for decision-making must be provided.
Domestic flight operations which remained suspended for weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic resumed last month.
Cyclone Nisarga, the first to strike near Mumbai in over 100 years, is barrelling towards the Maharashtra and Gujarat coasts with landfall expected near the city on Wednesday afternoon. It can cause heavy rainfall and winds with speed upto 100 kilometer per hour.