Two accidents of Emergency Door activation in PIA aircraft in June points to serious flaws in professional competence and training of Cabin Crew and executives assigned to head Flight Services department. It also reflects poorly on CAA Pakistan which certifies cabin crew in performing this basic essential duty which is to ensure that all passengers on board are evacuated within mandatory 90 seconds as per ICAO regulations. Commercial passenger aviation industry requirements are very different from cargo or military aviation industry. PIA has faced a partial ban on its fleet by European Union EASA, primarily for compromises on basic safety requirements. Aviation is very unforgiving, and such incompetence and lack of professional skills require strict disciplinary punishments to serve as deterrence for individuals involved and those who are responsible for oversight, training, and certification.

The numbers of doors equipped with emergency slides are dictated by the total number of passengers. An unserviceable door or missing emergency slide impacts the number of passengers seated in that zone, who will not be evacuated in time and lives are likely to be lost. Minimum Cabin Crew requirement is also dictated by the number of usable doors mounted emergency slides of aircraft. Inflight service of meals and refreshment etc depends upon airline policy. Low-cost airlines do not offer either hot or cold meals, yet they still have to carry the minimum required trained cabin crew to meet essential emergency evacuation requirements.

It is SOP that before every departure after all ground staff has disembarked the cabin crew is instructed: “Prepare for departure, Arm Door Slides and CROSS CHECK”. Similarly, after landing or in case of return back of aircraft for any reason cabin crew is instructed: “Prepare for arrival, disarm door slides and Cross Check.” In both these incidents neither cabin crew designated on that particular door had followed procedure, nor did Purser or other cabin crew, or the individual himself had cross-checked.

MALIK TARIQ,

Lahore.