Friday, March 24, 2006


I found that a lot of people ask generic questions on aviation and some of them are quite common. One of the most common question that I get is “is it true that landing the airplane is the most difficult and dangerous part of flying?” there are questions like “how do you know where you are when you are flying since there are no roads and signboards in the sky?” and “if the engine fails, will the airplane fall to the ground?”

One of the common misconceptions is that ATC (Air Traffic Control) or control tower as they are called commonly by laypersons, are actually controlling the Aircraft and if communication fails with the ATC, the airplane is in jeopardy.

There are other misconceptions that propeller driven airplanes shake a lot and hence are riskier to fly and so on, the list is endless. Oh, here's another common question asked "What is an air pocket? Why does the airplane suddenly shake so much, is there a chance that the airplane can crash?"

What I am attempting to do in this blog is to let the reader ask the question. I encourage all my readers to ask questions, without fear and without feeling that the question asked may be perceived to be silly (by the questioner). I assure you all that no question will be considered in any way but positively and I will make all attempts to answer those questions that are in your minds. Even if you want to know the answers to some of the questions that I have mentioned above, please write and I will gladly clarify.


Athul said...

hi sir ,
like u mentioned ,theres no sign board or anything like that in the sky so how do we know where we r flying ??? .

and what r the effects of cross winds on landing , some say that its kind of tricky .

would like to know about this sir

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Good questions Athul. These days, it is rather esy to find out where we are because all Aircraft have a GPS receiver in the cockpit and some older ones have portable GPS system carried by the pilots. GPS stands for Global Positioning Satellite System. It is a network of satellites in space, around the planet which beams out information, received by the GPS receiver and displayed with great acuracy, over a moving map (on the digital display)about the position of the Aircraft.

Basically, navigation charts (maps)help in navigating, that is flying from place to place. There are VFR charts used during recreational flying or when the weather is good. VFR means Visual Flight Rules. Rules for flying are different when weather is good and when weather is bad with poor visibility and low clouds. IFR charts (instrument Flight Rules) are there for lower altitudes and higher altitudes, during bad weather/poor visibilit/low clouds and so on. Airlines fly mandatory IFR all the time as this ensures precision navigation and guidance. There are invisible roads in the sky, denoted by lines on an IFR chart. These lines are called "Victor" Airways and each airway will have a number (like name of the road)These days, a GPS will show your position on this airway, accurately. In the past and even now we use other methods of navigating in the cockpit. One example is the VOR (Very high frequency Omni Range). There will normally be two VOR indicators/receivers in the cockpit. The VOR ground station is a radio transmitter that trasmits signals in radials, like degrees on a compass. When you tune the frequency of the VOR station (like tuning a radio station whose freq you already know), the needle in the indicator shows where the station is, to put it simply. One can know what radial one is flying and when two VOR radials are used, the point where the two radials (of two different stations)intersect (meet) will be the position of the Aircraft and this can be cross verified on the map. A bit technical, eh? Ask more if this is still confusing.

regarding your question on cross winds. First of all, wind coming into an Aircraft while landing or take off, is the best and I have briefly mentioned this is one of my replies on the Mysore Airport issue elsewhere on this blog page. Cross wind is wind that is blowing across the runway. If the winds are strong enough, and they are many time, the Aircraft that is lined up for on an approach path for landing on the runway tends to drift. This has to be countered by the pilot by slightly banking (turning) into the direction of the wind to prevent the Aircraft from being blown away from the runway centre line. It can be tricky if winds are particularly strong and again while landing, the Aircraft comes in with a bank, what we call crabbing into the wind, and then at the last moment before touch down (since we don't want the airplane touching down in a sideways manner!)the airplane is straightened. When you do flight training, it is common to sometimes land on one wheel, with a slight bank into the wind, before the other one does. Example if the crosswind is coming left to right of the runway, as a pilot, i would hold a slight left bank, to keep the Aircraft on the correct path and may still land with my left wheel first before the right wheel does, thereby ensuring that I am still on the runway centre line after landing and I don't run off the side. Cross wind landings are a lot of fun, because of the flying involved and most pilots do a brilliant job with this.

nikhil said...

this is nikhil
now a days there are so many plane crashes
the mig 21's are crashing quite frequently resulting in loss of many trained and experianced pilots
what do you think is the reason for this?

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Hi Nikhil, thanks for your question. I hope you have enjoyed reading the articles relating to the Airlines, on my blog page.

Airplane crashes may occur due to mechanical failure, bad weather and sometimes pilot error as well. Airline crashes are few in number and Airline travel is the safest mode of transport in the World as well.

In case on non Airline flying, such as the question you have asked, about the Indian Air Force Mig-21 jets, the issue is perhaps one that is more political than anything else. The Mig-21 fighter Aircraft is one of the oldest designs in the World.unfortunately the majority of fighter jets with the IAF is this type of Aircraft and they are using the same models since the 1960's.

Pilots need to be trained on an advance jet trainer before they are sent to fly on something like the Mig-21. Till now, there was no Advance jet Trainer in India and pilot would go from slower basic jet trainers (such as Kiran Mk II)and jump straight into flying a supersonic Aircraft such as the Mig-21. Indian Government has now ordered the British made "Hawk" Advance Trainer Jet and this is going to change the quality of training in the Air Force and hopefully reduce a number of youger pilots crashing.

Although the Defence Ministry and the Air Force says that there are no problems with the Mig-21 Airplane, yet there are. This Airplane, in my opinion, is outdated and lacks good spare parts support and the maintenance at H.A.L is also not that good for this type. In my opinion, the Mig-21 needs to be scrapped immediately and replaced with more modern Aircraft. Unfortuately the Government of India is doing this is slow phases and that is not good. Until the complete replacement happens, unfortunately more MiG-21's will crash, killing experienced as well as new pilots. I may sound discouraging and may upset quite a few people in the Government when (and if) they read this but my opinion will not change. MiG-2 is just junk.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Last line should read "MiG-21 is just junk".

Whenever you have any technical or non technical questions about airplanes Nikhil, just ask, anytime.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Just to sort out confusion, Nikhil who has asked the MiG-21 question is from Mysore and is a student, Nikhil Jagadish. Another Nikhil , who has been in touch commenting on earlier blogs is based in the US.

Athul said...

hi sir ,
thers something whic i would like to know about pilots and their health .
well planes have engines which produce lot of noise , which can b very annoying for the passengers sometime , so how do they (PILOTS ) adjust to this , that is throught their carrier they will b hearing this ,and will this not damage their ears ????.

secondly , iam not sure how much exact pressure and shake happens while ladning a plane and its effects on people so during landing thers huge shake happening to the plane , so do they( passengers and the pilots ) get the pressure on their spinal chord ? will that b any problem for them ,will it somehow damage their spines, how about the pilots who do the landings 100s of times .

would like to hear ur views regarding these sir ,

athul said...

bit of correction for the above , i meant "" THROUGHOUT their CAREER "" of the pilot. in the first question

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Govindraj Ethiraj said...

Hi Capt Murthy

Chanced upon your blog as I wandered around from the ATC Guild website..its very interesting, particularly for someone like me who covered aviation quite closely at one time (as a journalist !).

And its amazing how the internet and blogging combine to bring your expertise into public domain. And by extension, as a media person, I do find your comments on the various television reports quite interesting and insightful !

Also goes to show that folks like me can't get away with mistakes or inaccurate reporting in specialist fields, in this case aviation. Liked your dialogue with Vijendra Rao..All the best



PS I have ranted on airports in the past though, on and my blog ! Here is one link.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Reply to Athul's last question about airplane noise and I would like to inform you that unlike the old days, there are many noise suppression and noise cancellatin devices in a modern airplane these days and vibration is non existant in jets. Even modern truboprops have very less vibration. Pilots sit in cockpits that are way ahead of the engines. No worries about hearing loss due to noise. When you go on a trainer aircraft, you'd have a single noisy engine in front of you, driving a propeller. Thats the only time you'd be in a noisy environment, these days!
Regarding the pressures on landing, most landings are silky smooth. There may be the odd thump but the Airplanes all have very good shock absorbers, I have never heard of anyone getting a damaged backside because of any heavy landings. There have been a few incidents of people getting hurt during severe turbulence in flight, when they were not secure in their seats. From the cockpit, even a hard landing won't make you jump out of your seat. no worries about any damage to the spinal column.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Mr. Govindraj, thank you for your kind comments. You are right, Internet and blogging has not only made it possible for someone like me to provide all kinds of details and information on the web about aviation but also enables me to mentor some people who are interested in taking up flying as a profession. I wish I had an online guide when I did my flying 22 years ago.

I don't mean to be critical about journalists and TV channels but it is common for us pilots to feel like tearing our hair out once in a while whenever some news channels talk about aviation without understanding any of the terms and situations. It is a specialized field like many others, no doubt, if only the reporters took a little time to talk to an expert on the subject before putting out the report. I guess that with all channels trying to (perhaps the print and electronic media too)outdo the other in terms of the speed of reporting, often jargon are misused and the truth is ... well, far from the truth!

Thanks for the link to your blog about airports, it made very good reading. I would like to encourage readers of my blog to use the link and read Mr. Govind's blog. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

My compliments to professional colleague Govindraj for his humility, a rare quality among journalists.
Hasn't blogging created a level field for non-journalists, who, till the other day, could get away with all they wrote - most of the times with the last word on the controversies they triggered.

Vijendra Rao

Vijendra Rao said...

My compliments to professional colleague Govindraj for his humility, a rare quality among journalists.
Hasn't blogging created a level field for non-journalists, who, till the other day, could get away with all they wrote - most of the times with the last word on the controversies they triggered?

Vijendra Rao

Athul said...

sometime back when i red capt's blog about the TV report on aviation , i thought all of the joualist must see this blog . and now Mr govindraj has seen it .

i hope this way many more will get a good view , and have better reports than misunderstood once .

Athul said...

sometime back when i red capt's blog about the TV report on aviation , i thought all of the joualist must see this blog . and now Mr govindraj has seen it .

i hope this way many more will get a good view , and have better reports than misunderstood one .

nikhil jagadish said...

hello uncle,
i was just watching natgeo investigates the other day
i was shocked to see that the old boeing 737-400 air planes had a serious problem in the engines due to which a plane crashed and killed many people
after investigation it was proved that all the boeing 737-400's had the same problem and all of them were changed

haw can such a big company like boeing make a mistake like that????

nikhil jagadish said...

whats ur view on the new airbus A-380????

Madhukar - VU2MUD said...

WOW Capt. Murthy

This is turning into a very interesting and informative blog. Wish one day you will have the who - is - who of civil aviation discussing the problems and programmes in the near future on your blog.

I wish that you had started this topic some time back when I had certain basic questions on your earlier posts on Mysore Airport. Those questions would have fit in quite well here.

I am really enjoying and am enlightened at the topics being covered. It was informative on the MIG-21 and now waiting ur update on the A-380.

Will watch and learn


nikhil jagadish said...

hello uncle
ur blog is very very interesting
as i am very interested in airplanes

i feel the mysore airport is heading to a dead end
as you had mentioned when you came to our house the runway cant handle anyother planes other than ATR's. whats the use having a airport like that?

mysore is said to be the hottest devoloping city

i feel mysore should have a full fledged airport just like bangalore

i mean there is so much empty land next to the airport.why cant they make a proper airport??????

GVK said...

Why not ? Why can't Mysore have an International airport. If six-lane expressway becomes reality the Mysore airport can serve Bangalore. After all, a 90-minute drive from Bangalore on the Expressway can't be considered that far. Bonn and Cologne share an airport. So can Mysore and Bangalore.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

I apologise to my readers about my absence, I have been out of town and will again go out of town between the 30th of March and 2nd of April. Keep the questions coming, I will attempt to answer them during my travels.

First up, Nikhil Jagdish's question abt the B737-400 and NatGeo. Nat Geo is coming out with programs related to crashes and disasters mainly. However, as you can see, these crashes and disasters are few in number and far apart. regarding the engine damage to the Boeing 737-400, it is not Boeing's fault but it affected their airplanes. I will tell you why. When you, as an Airline buys an airplane from Boeing or Airbus, you are buying only the aircraft and NOT the engines. The engines are made by several companies such as CFM International (whose engines it was that caused the problem on the 737-400), V2500, GE, Rolls Royce and so on. The buyer has to decide the type of engine he wants. Even the A380 has two different manufacturers of engines that are certified on the airplane, it depends on the buyer from whom he wants to buy. Airbus and Boeing will then attach the engine that you selected. One example locally is Indian Airlines. it operates Airbus A320 series with the V2500 engines. Some of the other operators of the same Aircraft use CFM56 engines. Why do different airlines buy different engines (with the same power)? it depends on many factors including your other aircraft in the fleet, what engines they have, it saves monay and time if there is uniformity of equipment in your fleet of Aircraft. I'll bet not many people outside the Airline industry know this! That is why this is an excellent question Nikhil!

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Next question from Nikhil, what do I think of the A380? Well, I think it is a great airplane, able to move massive amounts of people around the planet. The negative side of it is that most airports around the World are not yet equipped to handle this big giant yet and that may cause headaches to flight operations. It is a state of the art flying machine and has a separate market. If there is any specific question on the A380, please ask, i will make an attempt to answer since this airplane is brand new, all info I get is from techical publications.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

To Mr. Madhukar, Please also read the other answers and those will give a lot of info on aviation. A lot of people think that when they buy an airplane for an Airline, it comes with only one type attached and they don't know that engines and several other equipment are all certified for the same "airframe" (Aircraft minus engines is called airframe)is the buyer's choice and that is an excellent quetion from Nikhil that i have attempted to answer as simply as possible, leaving out the extreme technicalities. Yes, I am sue that some of the Mysoe Airport questions would have been apt here but wait, I see some questions on this subject that I will answer next. Thanks for your kind readership and comments.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Question from Nikhil abt the Mysore Airport! My pet subject! Now, the only reason why the Government is making a small Airport is that the plans have been frozen for a long time, the Government has also been sleeping for many years now and they are frozen also. Nobody in the Government thinks that there is enough potential yet for bigger airplanes to Mysore. Land next to the Airort is not sufficient to extend the runway because the land is in the wrong direction. I had answered in my earlier topic on mysore airport about the runway alignment. If a bigger Airport needs to be built, it may have to be done at a different place. Expansion at this airport may be limited. It will still be useful in the future, even if another airport comes up, although that seems unlikely because of politics. The airport can also be used for a flight shool, bringing in turbo prop aircrat like ATR for maintenance and servicing and so on, even in the future. Politicians never have the future planned well ahead. They do now,what was required ten years back. they won't do what is needed ten years from now. You get the picture?

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Mr. GVK's question about bangalore and Mysoe sharing an Airport. That will never happen because the new airport for Bangalore is coming up at Devanahalli and once that comes up, even HAL Airport is to be shut. They will not allow another international airport to come up within such a small area. Really silly isn't it? In the US state of Florida, they have more International Airports (I think around ten) than the whole of India! Each competing with the other. Take New Yor's JFK, LaGuardia and Newark, each within 50 miles of each other and all three are major gateways to the US. As mentioned elsewhere, the only state that has three International Airports is Kerala (Trivandrum, Cochin and Kozhikode) and thats because of the Gulf malyalee lobby that has worked.

Athul said...

Hi sir
i was going through a topic on the net , the content of the net was something like this ,

that in North india , thers severe winter time always and most of the flight get cancelled and things like that , whereas in western countries they have this ,but very few flights get cancelled there as they do maintain the flight till it become worse ,
and there one person has mentioned that , foreign pilots undergo training called " CAT 111 B TRAINING "

there they also mentioned , that its purely on the company who is operating the flight who decide
whether they should undergo this training etc ,

would like to know how different is this from other training ,
can u tell us about this CAT 111 B TRAINING .

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Athul's question about Cat III. Firstly this is based on the ILS (Instrument Landing System). Cat III is a way of using the ILS system in reduced visibility conditions. Many airports in the North of India and elsewhere does not have Cat III available on the ground in the first place, except Delhi. So, even if the company spends a lot of money to train their pilots to use Cat III, it is of no use unless the ground equipment is installed.

When you do your instrument rating, you are taught to fly tha ILS approach. Very common would be the Cat II. If an aircraft is flying an approach into a reduced visibility conditions at the airport and the airplane can continue the approach only if 1) the airplane has Cat II ILS on board and the pilots are trained to use it. 2)if that airport has the ground based Cat III ILS installed. If one of the two is not available, the airplane cannot land under reduced visibility. Now, here is something that may not be clear to understand but are the rules governing the visibility and conditions for the Cat III ILS approach:
Cat IIIa allows DH (Decision Height) of 50 feet (15 meters) and RVR of 700 feet (200 Meters).
Cat IIIb allows DH of 50 feet and RVR 150 feet.
Let me attempt a simple explanation for the above. DH is the height above the runway where the pilot has to make a decision whether he is going to land or do a missed approach and go around and RVR is, lossely, the visibility on the runway in feet, thats how far one can see in bad weather/fog conditions. Hope this helps understand it better.

Athul said...

thank u captain , now i have better idea of ILS and cat 3 .

it would b better for india if thats installed ,since many things r depended on air transport .

nikhil jagadish said...

i have seen in many air crashes
when the pilot knows that the plane is going to crash why dont they make use of the parachutes?????????

if they use them they can save so many lives!

nikhil jagadish said...

i have seen in many air crashes
when the pilot knows that the plane is going to crash why dont they make use of the parachutes?????????

if they use them they can save so many lives!

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Nikhil, plane crashes are very rare, regardless of the TV programs that focus only on crashes! None of the commercial airline airplanes have any parachutes. It is not possible, in an emergency to equip each passenger with a parachute, de-pressurize the cabin, open the exits at that speed and make everyone jump. Parachuting is not easy and one has to undergo training at a para school before doing some jumps with an instructor. It is not possible to teach passengers at the last minute in a tense situation about how to use this equipment.

Having said that, Nikhil's question can be addressed in another way, why not make a parachute come, attached to the airplane, and safely bring down the entire aircraft? Well, for reasons of not having that technology and the weight of large aircraft being great, this cannot be done. BUT, smaller aircraft such as the 'Cirrus' have been fitted with a parachute. In a rcent incident, a cirrus aircraft (small/light aircraft)had engine problems and the pilot deployed the parachute from the cockpit to safely float down to earth. For Nikhil and all readers who are interested in knowing more about this, please copy the web address given below and paste it to your address bar on internet explorer and you will get info about the Cirrus Aircraft and it's famous parachute:

GBO said...

Capt. Murthy, I don't know who you fly with, but I want to ask you one thing-do the Air Deccan pilots know that there is a serious investigation going on about the whole thing of selling drinking water on board as well as selling food and beverages at prices over MRP?

What are your views on this, since by law:-

a) Aircraft on scheduled flights need to carry and have available potable drinking water for passengers.

b) Selling above MRP is a criminal offence.


Govindraj Ethiraj said...

Hi Capt Murthy

Couple of questions ! To what extent do you think can ATC physically (or otherwise) reduce the lag between landings and takeoffs or continuous landings and continuous takeoffs..all factors such as weather etc being constant.

Ive noticed gaps of 45-55 seconds (I timed it !) between landings and take-offs or continuous landings and continuous takeoffs in most international airports.

I think the best case here in airports like Bombay is more like two or three minutes. That's the minimum.

In some airports in India I have noticed it to be much longer. For no visible reason.

I understand that landings or landing/take-offs may have to be a little staggered because we don't have rapid exits on cities like Bombay, Runway least as of now.

So, are shorter time gaps between movements a function of technology, skills, manpower, competence, or all of them !

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Reply to GBO, I have been an India watcher and flown abroad basically, last position as CEO of a scheduled airline in Maldives and currently consultant. So, in short, I don't fly for Air deccan. Some of my students are in Indian and Kingfisher, don't know where the rest of them are!

Coming to your question, no I am not aware of an investigation on Air Deccan, yes they should at least provide potable water. If they are selling above MRP, thats too bad, a bottle of water last night at the Grand in Delhi last night was 300% above MRP but it is a five star and they don't seem to have the same rules, perhaps this applies to retailers, i.e. shops and not for re-seller? I don't know this aspect of Indian law.

Just to make things clear, you have asked if Air Deccan pilots know about this matter. I would like to say that in-flight sales policy of an Airline is actually nothing to do with the pilot, he has no commercial authority about the prices sold on board an Aircraft, that is purely a company policy matter. Perhaps they have enough potable water on board but don't give it free and sell you bottled water instead. You mention food and beverage above MRP, from what I know from one flight on Deccan, they sell samosas and sandwiches, are you sure these things have an MRP? I don't think there is any MRP on these products I have bought samosas at different bakeries in Mysore and they are all priced differently! Never heard of an MRP on them.

Would be interesting if you could shed light on this, mentioning any particular food item or beverage that you purchased on Air Deccan and that was above MRP?

This investigation, if there is one, will focus on company policy. again, nothing to do with the Pilots. A Pilot in Command of an Airplane is responsible for the flying and overall safety of his passengers, crew and the Aircraft.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Hi Mr. Govindraj, excellent question. Firstly, let me thank all my readers for coming up with far better questions than what I put on the FAQ's in my piece above!

Infrastructure problems in Indian aviation are well known, as you have written about them as well. The time between take off and landings on single runways are tough to reduce in India but can be reduced without changing anything. You may have noticed that in foreign countries, they have multiple runways and seldom take offs and landings are done on the same runway. Thats not the case here.

You are right about the reasons for ATC delays, other than single runways at most Airports in India and non availability of multiple rapid exit taxiways, it is also a case of bad airport planning, manpower shortage and I don't believe it is a question of competence but rather a question of poor training. ATC officers must be take to 'pressure cooker' airport areas around the World to see how other ATC officers work.

Not only ATC officers in the control tower (as most people think), but also approach and departure control officers. whats the difference you ask? well, firstly, when an Aircraft is approaching an airport controlled airspace a hundred miles out, we have to first talk to approach control who are not even in the control tower but in a room somewhere else actually, many miles away in some cases, looking at their radar screens and giving pilots the altitudes to descend in order to make an approach to land and give pilots directions(what we call as vectoring) to make the approach to the runway in use. They are responsible for traffic separation and sequencing on approach while making the initial approach. Once the airplane is established on final, on an ILS perhaps, the approach control 'hand you over' to Air Traffic Control at the Control Tower and you'd have to be on a different radio frequency with the tower guys (all these are published on approach charts and also verbally communicated with pilots)in order to talk to them. The tower chaps are the ones responsible for traffic seperation in the airport traffic pattern and give you the clearance to land (or take off). The tower chaps can see you visibly, the approach and dep control chaps can see you only on the radar. So, there's going to be a lot of co-ordination among these two different controllers to ensure safety in the immediate airspace.

Mumbai you say was at best two to three minutes? Well, for us and the passengers sitting in the airplane, 10th aircraft waiting in line for take off, it would be 20-30 minutes before we entered the runway. All this with engines on! Imagine the fuel wastage.

We need to up the ante, if we are to be on par with International airports around the World. Oh, then there is the case of VIP movements and airports restrictions on the days that this happens and then we are all waiting for long periods of back ups and delays. This is a different subject matter altogether, though!

Madhukar - VU2MUD said...

Dear Capt. Murthy

Excellent analysis and indepth explanation. As the saying goes "The other side of the fence is always green". We always feel that the work being done by others is quite easy and uncomplicated. Thanks for giving us an insight to the field of air travel and related technical aspects.

There was a report about a private airline pilot flying in an intoxicated state. Did not get the full details as I just read the caption on TV. That is scary stuff as I understand the takeoff and landing is necessarily the Pilot's and not the Co-pilot's responsibility.

About the sale of food stuff/drinking water inflight, I did not have such experience when I flew Indian Airlines and Sahara last year when i went to Delhi and back. Food served was sufficient - not requiring any additional purchase, bottled drinking water was supplied in ample quantity without any questions or monetary demands.

Probably - Air Deccan is trying to recover the cost of running the route at discounted rates? Only learned ones can enlighten us.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks for the question Mr. Madhukar. Pilots must have a gap of at least ten hours between having alcoholic drinks and taking a flight. Most drink moderately and give much longer gaps, none that I know of fly the way you have mentioned, quoting a TV channel. There is zero tollerance in aviation and the pilot's license is cancelled if found drunk or even had a glass of beer for that matter. No one in his right frame of mind would risk their whole carreer for a drink. Having said that, there may be a bad apple or two and I am not ruling out the possibility of something like this happening. Alcohol effects at higher altitudes are greater than when a person is at ground level and this is a physiological phenomena.

regarding sales of water and food on board, many discount airlines use this method to keep the costs down and earn additional revenue. Ryaniar of the UK, one of the World's biggest budget airline sells everything they can sell on board and is one of the most profitable Airline in the World. In the future, Ryaniar bosses say that all flights will be free for passengers and that their entire revenue will come from in-flight sales, adevrtising and in-flight gambling!! Lets wait and see! Air Deccan is a poor comparison to Ryanair but their model is copied from this Airline.

Just to update on the MRP issue made by another questioner. I made it back to the Grand Hotel at Delhi for dinner with fellow pilots last night and checked on the bottled water price. Granted that this is a five star hotel but they were selling the bottled water that was otherwise available outside at Rs.12 at the rate of Rs.80. Way off of my 300% estimate that I had made last. This is widespread too. Air Deccan is not selling that much above MRP, if at all they are. If anyone has flown deccan recently, please let us know what the rate for a bottle of water was.

GBO said...

a) On hotels selling you bottled water at prices over the printed MRP, well it is like this - the NHRAI (National Hotel & Restaurant Association of India) has currently got a stay on this matter, since it is sub-judice, but valid for Delhi only.

Technically speaking, you can, if you so desire, instruct the waiter to sell any branded item which has an MRP printed on it, to you at MRP, and s/he has the option to refuse. Most hotels do not make a fuss, and you can buy branded items at MRP from some location within the hotel.

This would include alcohol. I have done it at the best of hotels.

Alternately, you can, if you so desire, take the hotel to the Ministry for Consumer's Affair with the copy of the bill. However, the bill must mention the item and state that it was sold, not served.

b) The law on MRP is very clear in India, and scheduled commercial airliners in India are by no stretch of imagination from NHRAI. However, Air Deccan has tied up with "Cafe Coffee Day", who are.

c) I was able to pursue AAI relentlessly on the issue of bottled water at MRP at airports in India. I won. So far.

The complete issue in India revolves around the fact that excise and other taxes are payable basis declared MRP. Now if the product is sold at a higher price, then the excise and other taxes also need to go up.

The law on MRP is not as well evolved in UK, Europe and USA (surprisingly, but true).

But the issue here is liability of the PIC/Commander.

a) In the case of ample potable water, if not available on board, then he should not take off. Right?

b) In the case of illegal activities, and cheating excise is highly illegal, then he is liable as the person in charge of the mode of transport, and that is an accepted fact of law.

Just something that is evolving.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Reply to Mr. gbo, it is heartening to know that there are people who are willing to fight about the MRP issue. Can't do that in Delhi because of the stay I suppose. I am sure most consumers are not aware of their rights about MRP and I thank gbo for bringing this topic.

Regarding rules for pilots, we have our own set of rules and we don't come under transportation rules, matter of fact, we don't come under transport ministry anywhere. We have separate ministry with rules that govern the air through Civil Aviation regulations and this is in line with ICAO-International Civil Aviation Organization. Pilots do not need to know about any exise regulations nor are they accountable for the same. Our roles are clearly defined in the CAR. We are the commanders of the Aircraft responsible for the flying, safety and security of the passengers, crew and the airplane. Thats it. I have flwon in 22 countries and the rules are the same. imagine if we are to know the commercial tax rules in different countries and be able to interpret the same correctly. If cheating is involved as you say, with respect to the excise rules, that is the responsibility of the Airline and it's management. Pilots don't eed to even know whats on board the Aircraft rearding F&B.

Regarding potable water, there is no such regulation in most countries. In india, i did not see any such requirment on the DGCA rules book and when you say adequate supply on board, what is that? What is adequate, what quantity is adequate per person? no rules saying anything about that. We have a captain who drinks one liter of water for every hour he flies, he de-hydrates more than others he says and it is safe. Don't jump and say that he may have diabetes or something else, pilots undergo the toughest medical evaluation every six months.

Technically, even if potable water is on board in the form of bottles, are there any rules that say that they are to be provided free? Would be nice to get actual rules regarding this. Please do not quote transportation rules since they do not apply, our jurisdiction is based only on written down laws as per the Civil Aviation Act. I will research the rules and talk to the DGCA tomorrow since I am still in Delhi and not due back home for a week.
As for taking off the Aircraft, if the dispatch and technical crew give the necessary clearanceto the pilot that all documents are in order and on board the Aircraft and that all technical snags have been rectified, we are to accept the airplane. Nothing more, nothing else. Oh, by the way, I was reading on the net that most airlines around the world store "potable" water in tanks that are seldom cleaned and infections may result from drinking this water! Where does this end?

GBO said...

Dear Captain Murthy,

Thank you for your detailed response.

I agree that the PIC is the law as well as judge of the fact when the doors are shut.

However, I do disagree that other things are not his responsibility. Before doors shut and after doors open, the PIC is as liable to the laws of the land as anybody else. In fact, you may recall the Air India aircraft that was stopped at JFK by the NYPD basis a 911 call from a pax on board, not too long ago? That aircraft had to return to bay, and the PIC was the one answering.

More. For example, bonded stores on board. The Chief Purser/equivalent may be the functional head but the responsibility is still that of the PIC, right?

Likewise, "ample" potable drinking water is not quantified, but if I as a passenger complain to DGCA that there was a shortage of drinking water on board such-and-such scheduled flight, that I was not provided with drinking water, and use the RTI to good measure, then would the DGCA not investigate?

There are some RyanAir precedents on the subject, which are quoted in the latest issue of Consumer-VOICE.

Point I am making is this:- the LCC/no-frills airline concept is still evolving in India. Management of such airlines will when faced with issues such as this pass the buck to the PIC and get the aircraft released.

So shouldn't the PIC know what he is signing on the various sheets before take-off?

My RTI applications are already doing the rounds of DGCA, BCAS and AAI, not just on this subject but also on the subject of exemption from frisking for some :persons:, I am currently in Delhi till the 11th morning, and would like to meet with you. How would you like to schedule this, please?

Thank you


Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Dear Mr. GBO, In my comments, I don't mean PIC is the final judge, merely that he is the final authority for acceptance of the flight and is responsible for the safety and security of the passengers, crew and Aircraft. Thats it. Reg the incident in new York, nothing wrong in the Authorities calling the AI flight back because securit was the issue. SOP calls for returning in case of being asked to return for a security sweep. PIC is in charge of the Aircraft as per SOP.

Regarding bonded stores, PIC just signs off the sheets, the chief purser may have even pilfered some bottles out of the Aircraft. Not possible, with so many works assigned to the PIC, to take physical inventory of bonded stores items as well!

Regarding water, I don't know whether DGCA will investigate on your complaint that you found "potable" water shortage aboard.

You say "So shouldn't the PIC know what he is signing on the various sheets before take-off?"

The "sheets" he signs off is the journey log which has, based on many factors, a flight release certificate, DI and pilot acceptance. No mention in that about bonded stores or water for that matter.

In Delhi, I am on my final leg of the trip and meetings with many corporates. I will be leaving back for Bangalore on 9th afternoon. Not sure when we can meet, let me see. We have meetings all day regarding Aircraft acquisition with our foreign visitors on Friday and saturday, one of the meetings is again at The Grand where the fashion week is also going on. I am not sure we can meet, at this time. Lets see.

Meanwhile, I am going to post a new Q&A blog piece once I get back home because, as one of my wellwishers said to me, this Q&A has become too long and unwieldy. People have a hard time scrolling down so far down. Thanks for your questions and I hope others keep asking as well.

GBO said...

Sir, DGCA will have to give me a response on policy regarding availability of potable drinking water on board scheduled commercial airliners. Using the RTI Act/2005, DGCA will also have to reply on whether who or what is responsible for illegal acts being carried out on board an aircraft.

Please recall the fate of the AI crew who were locked up in Nigeria years ago. Aircraft got returned.

Natural law states simply that it is the Master/Commander who is responsible. Here in this case, the PIC is aware that water is being sold on board. S/he is also aware that consumer goods are being sold at prices higher than MRP on board. The responsibility and thus liability accrues from there.

Good luck with your work in Delhi. Thank you also for so many informative postings.

I am on S2 DEL/PNQ on 11th morning.


Michael said...

My Dear Capt. Anup Murthy,

It pains me to hear views on your blog site regarding MiG-21's. I really feel sad that a person of your calibre should be shooting comments on the state of MiG-21's which apparently and very evidently you have no clue about. It is a very "naive and juvenile" opinion that you have projected, certainly not what I would have expected of a professional.

It is sad that you are influencing the impressionable minds of poor kids who seem to be hanging on to your every word and are creating a negative effect on their minds.

Even more shocking is your explanation of delay in take-offs in between two flights and the subsequent "fuel wastage" as you said. VERY UNPROFESSIONAL !

For those who don't know.. there must be a delay in between two different flights. It is mandatory. Depending on the class (There are 3 classes viz. Heavy Medium and light)of aircraft preceding you and your own class of aircraft, the delay required could be between 2 - 5 mins. This is primarily due to the disturbance in the air created by the aircraft taking off ahead of you so as not to jeopardize the safety of the aircraft and its occupants.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

I am sorry, I did not see the reply from Mr. Michael since I have been writing new articles and did not check back till now. regarding the "time between take off and landing", we can agree to disagree but I sympathise with you. I have flown in far tougher environments in the west and flown to high density airports and definately aware of wake turbulence from different categories of Aircraft and all that. I hope that I did not mislead anyone about these issues. I have had nightmarish experience when we sat at the intersection of the runway, unable to enter the same because there was a helicopter moving across the runway at the far end. Why were we not allowed to enter and backtrack and hold, since the helicopter was at the other end? The time wasted, with our engines running, was 20 minutes!!! Sequencing is a problem, some people are afraid and are very conservative. Happened a few times in the South also, where they put our aircraft and another one that had just exited the runway, on a ground collission path! The confusion and panic in the ground ctrl voices was perceptible. Ours was a turboprop and the other was a Boeing 737. needless to say, we had to make a U-turn, backtrack on the taxiway, past the tarmac, allow the B737 to go and then continue on the same taxi track while there was another option to enter the runway in the middle for us while the jet was exiting at the end. Juvenile? Thats what I'd say about the controllers at that point. if you belong to the ATC or a pilot, I'd recommend you go to JFK, ATL, LAX, MIA,LON or many other airports that i had made approaches into and see how they handle the traffic.

Regarding the Mig-21, I stand by my statements. if that turns some people away, thats fine, they are entitled to it. I am not going to take the help of statistics when I talk about the Mig-21 because the statistics will not paint a very good picture of the Aircraft. I know a few who used to fly them and know that it has killed more good pilots than necessary. The fact is that you could trade shoes, leather garments and toothpaste with the erstwhile Soviet Union and get Airplanes back. What was the criteria for choosing fighters? If money was not the object, why did we not get state of the art frontline fighters? If the Mig-21 is a great aircraft, it is because of our great pilots. Not because it is a better machine. why don't you come up with statistics or performance details of what makes this Airplane better than others in its category in the air today? There are no comparison aircraft today anywhere because they are all obsolete. This one is to, but we still use it! I am sorry, i have the tendancy of calling a spade a spade. This spade needs to be called a shovel actually.

sahil said...

hi sir i have done wid my class 2 n cockpit test. n my date 4 class 1 s in nov 2007 .so wat du u think .doing flying frm india is good r frm abroad ? n wat r d rules 4 dgca if we do our training frm abroad . wat % marks we need 2 secure 2 clear dat if we do our flying frm abroad .how many attempts do we get 4 clearing dat? sir give me all queries regarding d fact dat if we do our training frm abroad. thankyou

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Sahil for your question. I was late getting back to you simply because your question had snuck into an old topic (March 2006) of mine and I seldom check the older ones for comments.
Anyway, as for training in India, under the current circumstances, you will find that it will take very long to train in India because of the sudden growth of flying students and Indian schools unable to cope with the demand. It is not uncommon to see plenty of Indian students training in US, Australia, New Zealand or whereever else.

Rules for DGCA India are available on their website: and particularly on this link thattakes you to the Civil Aviation requirements:

On the same website, thereare guidelines as to how to convert from a foreign license to an India one and that link is:

I think you will get the full picture when you read the rules found on the links I have given above. If you have any question further, please feel free to ask but please post your questions on another blog of mine called "Captain's Blog". You can find my other blog when you go into my profile page and you will see both my blog sites listed. Leave you next question on the single topic that I have posted on "captains Blog". It makes it easier for me to trace your question and give you answers.
I trained abroad more than 22 years ago and also worked as a flight instructor in 1988/89 overseas and have contacts to guide you if you want to train in the US.

chetan said...

hi sir i have done wid my class 2 n cockpit test. n my date 4 class 1 s in oct 2008 .so wat do u think .doing flying frm india is good r frm abroad ? n wat r d rules 4 dgca if we do our training frm abroad n i have a doubt abt medical sir i studied tht some problems can be rectified n pilot can have his job wth limitations but if a pilot get diabetes is dgca allowing them 2 continue their job or d cpl license is permanently removed wht is done in the case of diabetes sir plzz reply n how r d job scopes now a days 4 pilots n i want 2 do the course at d chepest rate including cpl mul eng n ifr how much may it cost sir including visa air fare tsa accomodation food n all plzz reply sir as soon as poss i am waiting 4 ur reply

sameer said...

hi sir i have a doubt with a medical section if a pilot gets diabetes in his future carrer at age of 30 n so wht will dgca do permanently cancel the license or he has a chance of flying n continue his job wht will they do n wht will pilot do if he is removed

michael said...

I looked up the website you mentioned for converting foreign licenses to Indian ones. However, it seemed to be mainly for airline pilots. Do you know where I could find information on how a private pilot license could be converted from foreign to Indian?

amit said...

Hey if any1 can help me for my Question on FLIGHT DISPATCHER TRAINING, i would like to join a course for this from usa or maybe uk and any1 tell me if science background is necessary for this? as i am from commerce stream can i do this course?
thanks best regards


Capt. Anup Murthy said...

I guess I yave not answered some of you because I don't check on previous postings comments especially when they are more than a year old. If anyone has a question, please post on my latest blog and my latest blog piece is not about aviaiton but about singapore and is current on 12 September 2007. Please post aviation querries on my latest blogs always, even if those topics are not about aviation. That way it comes to my attention and write replies. Thanks. said...

Guys you all can fly noe with diabetes, Hypertension and heart diseases with some restrictions.
Check it out on this site

Anonymous said...

Civil Aviation needs to be dissolved as they are only a road block in the system and the only thing they are good for is to Ruin airlines and to spoil Pilot Lives as they are in the habbit to loose pilot licences as well as take years to renew their licences it is time someone does something about Civil Aviaion in New delhi they need to be retired and we desperately need external help like an outside agency to set things right back on as for a long time there have been defence personel in DGCA and controllling things so the Civil Aviation has gone to the dogs with the stupid defence politics entered there.. I dont see any hope for the DGCA safdarjung in Indian to do anything right anything they do it will be 180 deg to what is right so its high time that the civil aviation ministry take a stand and send all the babus in DGCA on VRS( Voluntry retirement Service) as they are a burden on the system and not a help in any way including the director general of civil aviation as well as JDMS that is a part of the airforce side of the DGCA which is creating all the mess in the Pilot Medicals..... It is really high time that India wake up to the rubbish rules which the civil aviation has set over 45 years back that is Indian Aircraft Rules 1937 and Indian aircraft rules 1941 which was very effective in that era now DGCA either gets into shape or we ship them out as they are just a burden on the system making stupid rules which is only good when you hear it but if a professional like a Pilot and Engineer has to abide by it.. that is compeletly outrageous... Please Indians its time to remove that rubbish DGCA which is so corrupt that they dont even send your files to the correct offices till the time you grease their palms.. the training and licencing section is probably the worst of the lot as invariably you will either lose your licence or they will lose your draft or some small thing which they want to renew your licence and then when you go back they will refuse that they have your licence but when you say ok I will pay you one month salary that is approx 5 lacks then suddenly all the papers will start emerging back... Why is there so much corruption in the training and licencing depatement and no Pilot want to bell the cat as if his name is on that then the DGCA will make sure that he will never be able to keep his licence current.. it is such a pathetic state that I feel miserable even thinking about the Indian Civil Aviation. Even if you go to DGCA Safdarjung Airport they will keep on making you stand in the Security section endlessly and then after about two or three days then they might allow you to go to training and licencing section and they are so rude that you will feel as if you have come from the slums that they are treating you in such a way then when you go to the next section whcih is obiviously the training section they will talk rudely to you what do you want so obviously you will say you have submitted your licence on such a such day now he will say we dont have any records showing that licence was submitted on that day then you have to go from one section to another and the manner in which they will treat you is not even funny.. In short it is time to remove this Babu dom from Delhi civil aviation ministry and we the people of India have to kick the ass of the corrupt officials who from years and years have totaly become incompetent and useless and airforce has to be removed from DGCA as Defence has a certain amount of politics which is causing all these problems now in Civil aviation.. I know defence likes to have power but they are not effecient enough.. that is the reason that India cannot match up with China defence but I can produly say that Indian Software is far superior then China or medical practioners are the best in the world no where in the world do we have the kind of nursing and doctors quality.. anyway I will not drift away from the subject of Babudom in Civil Aviation India needs an overhaul but there needs to be a radical chance in personel and the only way I see it is to remove all the airforce guys from DGCA first and then all the Haryanwis who are there only for the ride and not for a purpose... any way I am sorry I cannot give my name as DGCA will jack me up if they get to know that I am voicing..thanks viewers.. XYZ

vinay said...

hi sir,
this vinay her
i want to no that my eye site num is -2.5.wich book to refer for doing cpl traning and which subject are there.