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DCA: AirAsia crew did right in Sunday’s emergency situation

 | October 18, 2017

DG Azharuddin says they followed the standard operating procedure.

Azharuddin-Abdul-Rahman-dca-malaysia-1PETALING JAYA: The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) has come to the defence of the pilot and crew of AirAsia Indonesia Flight QZ535 against allegations that they responded inappropriately to an emergency situation last Sunday.

DCA director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said the rapid reduction of altitude was part of standard operating procedure.

“Modern aircraft fly at a very high altitude, more than 30,000 feet, in which the pressure outside is too low for humans to survive,” he said. “So the pressurisation system is automatic to ensure the cabin pressure is comfortable for passengers.”

Azharuddin said he did not know what exactly happened with the QZ535 flight but he suspected there was a problem with the pressurisation system.

“This is common,” he said. “The captain can adjust the system manually or semi-manually. He can resort to many procedures to ensure the passengers fly comfortably.

“One of the ways would be to bring the aircraft down as fast as possible to normalise pressure so passengers do not have to continue using the oxygen masks.

“The captain’s action was correct.”

The pilot came under heavy criticism from various quarters for the rapid drop in altitude, which reportedly caused a panic among the crew members and passengers.

Asked to comment on reports that some of the crew members were shouting, Azharuddin said that was part of their training and they did the right thing.

“Because of the rapid descent, which causes depressurisation, resulting in the oxygen masks dropping for passengers to use, the crew is trained to shout to get important instructions across to passengers.

“At that point of time, their priorities change from pleasing passengers to ensuring their safety.”

He said the crew members had to exert their authority over the anxious passengers.

“They can’t be calm and smiling at this point. They have to shout to get their instructions across and make sure the safety of the passengers is taken care of.

“The main reason for having cabin crew members on an aircraft is to ensure the safety of passengers. Serving them a meal is secondary.

“I can’t say exactly what happened on that particular flight, but in general, this is normal SOP by the crew, who have to move fast in such a large aircraft and make sure they get their instructions across to passengers.”

Yesterday, AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes dismissed Australian media reports criticising the behaviour of the crew during the mid-air emergency.

He denied reports that the crew members were in a state of panic or were no help to passengers when the flight from Perth to Bali suffered a technical issue that forced the aircraft to make a sudden drop in altitude from 32,000 feet to 10,000 feet.

The plane departed Perth at 11.35am and was about 25 minutes into its flight when the emergency occurred.

AirAsia boss says media twisted stories on QZ535 scare


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