Monday, September 07, 2009


23 Sept 2009: Charter flight landed in MYQ Airport carrying tourists on the Dasara trail. I hope the service lasts beyond Dasara, and hope that if such is the case, the DGCA will complete its certification works of the Airport and we can look forward to long lasting service. I hope I am not overly optimistic!


I am not sure how long this link to Star of Mysore archives will be available online. In short, it says that Mysore Airport Inauguration has been put off indefinitely. There is going to be nothing happening for a while. There are no flights announced and none planned by any Airline, hence no one interested in opening an empty airport. All we have are false assurances from various authorities and ministers. SOM report claims that all that is false. Saga continues....
Star of Mysore link:



OK, here is a bit of disappointing news, if true. Indian Express online today says that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation is not going to visit Mysore and conduct inspection before Dasara. They do not have the time to conduct this detailed and elaborate inspection at this time. The earliest inspection may be done sometime after December.

What does this mean to you and me? Well, nothing much really, no Airline had come forward to operate to and from Mysore to any point anyway. Global Vectra Helicopters had made a statement that they would like to operate a helicopter service. Well, that's going to be too bloody expensive, pardon my French.

Now, to save face, the State Government may still go ahead and inaugurate the Airport. Since it won't mean much, the same can be symbolic. Let us Mysoreans take it on the chin, again. Can they run the Airport without DGCA permissions? Of course they can, like they used to on the grass strip that existed before, minus the Control Tower of course, maybe minus the Meteorological service for the operators (if any operator, that is), minus fueling (that facility isn't even ready), minus fire fighting services (God, I hope not).

Well, here is the silver lining: Sources have been quoted saying that the State can still operate chartered flights "at it's own risk" even if DGCA clearance is not done before Dasara. That's how chartered flights used to fly into Mysore in the past. What a tangled web we weave. This is like someone playing April fools day in September. Fingers crossed and hope to fly!

UPDATED 19 September: No charter flight into MYQ Airport! What happened? Sri Sri Ravishankar arrived by Road to inaugurate Dasara. The Chief Minister arrived by Helicopter and landed at Lalitha Mahal Helipad. No one came in any chartered Kingfisher Aircraft like it had been announced before!

UPDATED on 16 September: Latest report says the Chief Minister and his entourage and Sri Sri Ravishankar and entourage are going to be landing at the new Mysore Airport (MYQ) on the 19th of September in a chartered ATR Aircraft. However, this will be a one off flight and is not the real inauguration of the Airport. The "official" inauguration may be on the 22nd of September when Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel visits Mysore. Don't know how far this is true either. Earlier report spoke of the PM visiting and inaugurating the Airport.

Latest from Mysore's paper says that Kingfisher will fly between Bangalore and Mysore in an ATR 42 (50 seat) between 22nd and 26th of September. Kingfisher will then start weekend services from Mysore to other destination such as Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Goa! Have they been reading my blog? hehehe...

Thursday, September 03, 2009


I normally don't just sit down and write about something unless I feel really compelled. YSR Rajasekhara Reddy the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh passed away in a Helicopter crash yesterday, the remains were found this afternoon. His passing away compelled me to write this piece. He was going to visit a Village, an unannounced trip till the last minute, because he just wanted to "drop in" and talk to the villagers one on one and understand their problems without having an entourage of interlocutors.

I met YSR this year with respect to some flight operations. He was very personable, likeable, simple and easy to work with. Even though our contact was brief, he easily remembered my name and called me by my first name. From what I know, rural people loved him a lot, he'd remember everyone's names when he went visiting villages. I was struck by his uncanny ability to remember so much with genuine affection. Even I felt that when I was with him briefly. There was no doubt about his sincerity to work for people. I can't say the same for many politicians. To lose someone like him is rather hurting. I had met his wife and family briefly and my condolences goes out to them in their difficult time. I am not forgetting the others on the Helicopter who also perished, previously I had even met the Security officer Wesley, who died in the crash.

I am sorry for this sad post but I guess it reflects how I am feeling today and the anxiety of the previous day when the Helicopter first went missing. I have to ask some plain and simple questions:

1. Why did they dispatch the Helicopter when the weather was known to be bad? I checked on the weather including satellite maps from Singapore and it was evident that the weather was bad. So, don't tell me otherwise. I'd also ask whether these pilots, even though well experienced, done any CFIT training lately? (CFIT = Controlled Flight Into Terrain)...Does the State Government aviation arm have recurrent courses for CFIT?

2. Does the State Government have a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in place? Are the Aircraft in it's fleet always dispatched under guidance from their manuals or is it just a fill it-shut it-fly it operation?

3. I know that people around VIP's exert a lot of pressure, I have faced it myself quite badly, where they insist on flying at any cost, even when there was a technical problem. My question to them is: Is it worth it? Laloo Prasad Yadav just came on TV and said that yes they do pressurize the pilots to fly and he wanted the pilots to refuse and walk away. Does that happen in India? Air safety is a concept that has to be ingrained in everyone who is connected with it. Drill it into the bureaucrats and others who surround VIP's and add to the pressure on operators and flight crews.

4. Why did the Emergency Locator Trasmitter (ELT) not work? This is supposed to operate automatically in the event of a crash such as this. The time spent in trying to locate the missing Helicopter was unacceptable, nearly 24 hours to search for the crash of the reasons being an inactive ELT. An ELT is a stand-alone system with a separate power supply. The latest version is the ELT 406 which bounces signals off satellites to pin point the location of a crash. Did this Helicopter have this? If so, why was it not working?

These questions are meant for whoever is in charge, to answer. The DGCA (Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation), god bless them, don't even have an updated web site. They came on air saying that the Helicopter that crashed did have a Certificate of Airworthiness, even though their web site said otherwise. They said that their website had not been updated. Talk about inefficiency and confusion caused.

We have had too many Helicopter and general aviation accidents in India. Check this out (not in any order), GMC Balayogi died in a Helicopter crash (Single engine) in bad weather in 2002 prompting the DGCA to insist that all VIP flights have to be done in Twin Engine Helicopters henceforth. OP Jindal died similarly in a Helicopter crash in 2005. Another Bell 430 (same as the one that YSR passed away) crashed killing the pilots and engineer on board last year (2008), belonging to a private company that charters these machines. Madhav Rao Scindia died in a ratty old King Air in 2001 in very bad weather with two most inexperienced pilots at the controls who also lost their lives. There are many more, I only cited some accidents that had VIP's on board. Makes me general aviation safety audit really done properly in India? How many crashes need to take place before someone does something about fixing general Aviation in India?

Sad day for India and for the families of the deceased and for others who knew the people on this Helicopter and for aviation. The last one can be fixed. Do we have the professionalism in India to fix it?

Monday, August 17, 2009


First it was the Japanese who always went around the World wearing masks and gloves long before this new bug called H1N1 came along. Now, it seems Indians have panicked (thanks to the high decibel, repeated screeching of anchors on news channels there) and loads of them were seen wearing these masks without knowing whether the masks they had on were really going to stop the infection from hitting them or not. I saw "normal" Indians, even couples in downtown Bangalore wearing these funny contraptions. Why funny? Let me tell you why. There were people with kerchiefs tied around their noses, there were those who had these single layer masks and there were those with dupattas around their faces looking like The Taliban had enforced a dress code. Of course there were regular masks all around too.

Went to the Bengaluru International Airport to catch my late night flight back to Singapore. Saw more varieties of masks there, mostly on Indian faces. What bugs me is that the wearers don't even know if they are protected or not. One should check on guidelines and there are sources on the net also, such as the Center for Disease Control, USA that explains what works and what won't help. The masks, the different variety of ones that are available in the market in India, are ineffective in preventing the wearer from contracting the disease. They are only good in the sense that they stop droplets from spreading all around when the wearer coughs or sneezes. So, while it may not protect the wearer, at least the chaps around are safe to a certain extent! The N95 respirator "mask" is the one that is approved by CDC and health officials around the World. Not the mickey mouse contraptions that most of them were wearing. The mask manufacturers are laughing all the way to the Bank as they make a "killing", selling them like hot cakes.

Let me briefly describe some of the masks I saw on many faces at the Airport. There were these green surgical ones you see on TV medical shows and at hospitals. Then there were ones that are labeled "Duck billed" (even on CDC website!), I swear this is the funniest one. Some looked like birds standing around because they were yellow in color (the masks I mean!) There is a definite beak shape, just like on Tweety Bird. I thought that was the funniest until a couple walked by, both of them wearing, what would have come straight from Star Wars. I am not kidding you, they looked like the ones Darth Vader would wear to the beach. These were large, dark, covered a lot of the nose, mouth and cheeks, had round discs jutting out from both sides of the mask like Oxygen regulators and they looked like what some one would wear in a chemical attack. Maybe effective against H1N1 too, no?

On the Aircraft, some of wearers decided to give it a rest and took them off and put them back on whenever they felt like it. Catering arrived and soon all the masks were off to eat and drink! Some people are deluded to think that H1N1 is only floating around when they are wearing these masks. For me, I was just pleased. Firstly because the person next to me sneezed, while wearing the mask and so I did not have to hold my breath till I turned blue in the face...and secondly, these mask wearers were a source of entertainment, just looking at some of them and their behavior with and without the masks made my night!

I have to end this story with something really funny, without disrespect to anyone. Many of you would already know this I think, although it may not be politically correct. Anyway, what I heard in Bangalore was that the sales of padded Bras were going up in the city. Not because more women had come into town all of a sudden leaving their wardrobe behind but because half a padded Bra works wonderfully well as a mask! This it seems, is a fact, and not a joke as it had been mentioned in some media. Thanks to H1N1, Bra manufacturers can also laugh all the way to the Bank! I kid you not.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Use this link to read about the first part of my journey this monsoon season, undertaken by road...Mysore to Goa via Jog Falls. The article on my blog contains anecdotes of my journey, photos and videos especially of Jog Falls. Click on the title above to be redirected to my other blog where this article is published.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Hi All, for those of you who have been following the story on my blog about Mysore airport, here's the latest. I was in Mysore recently, just a few days back and found that the tarmac and runway is ready at the Mysore Airport. There have been some chartered flights that have already operated in and out of the Airport on unscheduled visits, having obtained prior special permission to land at Mysore. For those who live in Mysore or have been reading some sites on the net, they would already know this information. For those who don't have the latest, here is what's been going on.

The last item for development before the Airport can be officially opened is the terminal building. As it appears, the work is going on in full swing. Credible reports from the current DC of Mysore Mr. Manivannan suggests that the Airport will be open in time for Dasara 2009. That's around the last week of September this year. Some readers may laugh at this because several Dasara festivals in Mysore have come and gone with politicians of every hue and color making statements that the Airport would be ready by Dasara time. This time, it may be believed because the statement comes from the DC of Mysore, a person who I credit all positive things that are happening there. If there is an honest, upright and dynamic officer, then Manivannan is the man and he has been an asset to Mysore notwithstanding the political pressures that his office may experience and the threat of transfers of such good officers, again coming from politicians of every hue and color.

So after much waiting, decades of it in fact, maybe we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Naysayers are still at work saying that the Airport is inadequate, large Aircraft cannot operate from them and that additional land needs to be acquired, this is not the end of the story..blah..blah...blah.

It is left to the operator to decide whether there is enough traffic from Mysore for large Aircraft and if so, what sectors would make sense and so on. Airline business is not a charity, it is highly sensitive and break even/loss making at the best of times. To speak of the current situation where load factors on known, established routes have come down drastically and every one painting red on their Balance Sheets, one cannot expect anything more from the industry. The point is, at last we have an airport that can see commercial operations. Let's hope it is viable for operators to come in with ATR turboprops to begin with. Let's see what sectors will be offered and whether those sectors make enough sense in the long run for the operator to stay on this route. If the viability fails, it does not matter how big the Airport is or what it can handle in terms of Aircraft. If viability fails, we will have an airport either with sporadic service or none at all. Lets hope this becomes viable in the long term and it appears that way at the moment. I, for one, will await with some eagerness, to see the day we have air services into Mysore. Hopefully it is in September this year!