The civil aviation ministry and the DGCA will look into a complaint filed against Air India by a former senior pilot alleging that the airline operated Boeing 777 planes to the US without having the required system of emergency oxygen supply, according to sources.
The pilot, who had served as a B777 commander, complained about the practice to the ministry and the DGCA on October 29.
According to the sources, the pilot, in the complaint, said Air India has been operating flights with leased B777 aircraft that carry a chemically-generated oxygen system that lasts around 12 minutes, and hence should not be used for the airline's direct flights to and from San Francisco.
The airline has to factor in that in case of an emergency situation of depressurization, there should be sufficient oxygen supply to all the crew and the passengers for any period that is more than 12 minutes, the complaint said and also referred to the DGCA norms.
A senior government official on Friday said the ministry and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will be looking into the complaint against Air India.
"The matter in question is multi-dimensional and has already been examined by Air India and external experts. We will restrain from offering any comment on this specific case but we wish to reiterate that the safety of our passengers and crew is our foremost priority and there is no compromise on the same," an Air India spokesperson said on Friday.
Meanwhile, the complaint said in the case of depressurization, it is mandatory for the aircraft to descend to a flight altitude of 10,000 feet or lower.
When flying over high mountainous terrain that could be more than 9,000 to 10,000 feet, it might not be possible to descend to 10,000 feet within 12 minutes.
This is because of the requirement of maintaining the minimum flight altitude of more than 10,000 feet for more than 12 minutes to be clear of vast stretches of high mountainous terrain below extending for hundreds of miles, the complaint said.
In the complaint, the pilot also claimed that he had refused to operate a leased B777 aircraft for the Air India flight from San Francisco to Bengaluru on January 30 this year due to an issue with the oxygen system.
Three months later, the pilot in the complaint said that he was terminated from the service by the airline, as per the complaint.
The pilot could not be contacted immediately.