Two Air India pilot unions on Tuesday wrote a letter to Minister of Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri, demanding the removal of Directorate General of Civil Aviation chief Arun Kumar over his “casual and speculative” remarks on the Kerala plane crash, PTI reported.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Union and Indian Pilots Guild cited Kumar’s interviews to news channels, in which he claimed that landing of the Air India Express plane from Dubai was not smooth. The pilots’ associations said that Kumar’s comments revealed his lack of technical knowledge and “amateurish” take on the accident.

“Whether a landing technique is appropriate or a contributory factor to a mishap can only be ascertained after a thorough, evidence backed investigation and not by speculative, casual remarks,” the groups said.

The two groups also accused Kumar of making inappropriate references to Wing Commander Deepak Vasant Sathe and Captain Akhilesh Kumar – the two pilots killed in the accident along with 16 others. Sathe was a skilled fighter pilot with the Indian Air Force who flew planes for Air India before he went on to Air India Express flights. He also reportedly saved many lives by switching off the plane’s engine on time, averting a blow up of the fuel tank.

The pilots’ unions demanded that the Centre appoint a person with proper technical knowledge as the aviation watchdog’s chief. “At this juncture we would also like to point out the futility of routinely appointing career bureaucrats picked from their parent cadre, as the head of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation,” they said in their letter, according to Hindustan Times. “It is a highly specialised and technical field beyond the comprehension of non-specialists. Civil Aviation requires a domain expert to understand the complexities and technicalities involved.”

Air India’s Boeing-737 flight from Dubai, repatriating Indians stranded due to the coronavirus pandemic, overshot the Kozhikode airport’s table-top runway amid heavy rain on Friday, tumbled into a valley and split into half. The plane was carrying 190 passengers and crew. More than a 100 passengers were injured. Air India said on Wednesday that 85 injured passengers have been discharged from various hospitals.

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