BlogMediation BlogSafer Skies: An Open Letter to the Tata Chairman

February 20, 2022by Rajeev Hora


 Dear Mr Chandrasekaran,


At the very outset, I extend my heartfelt congratulations and compliments to you and the Tata group for boldly venturing towards reclaiming Air India’s lost glory. Undoubtedly, a very challenging task which the entire nation is confident that you will be successful in undertaking.

I have personally been following your corporate developments in this regard with a great amount of interest.  I therefore went over your recent address to the Air India employees very carefully. As I read the media reports, the following stands out:

Tatas will make Air India financially fit, technologically most advanced global airline, says Chandrasekaran.

 “Chandra identified four core areas on which Air India will focus under the new management. These are providing best in class customer service, making it the most technologically advanced airline in the world, upgrading and modernising the fleet and hospitality, both in-flight and off-flight.

 On consumer experience, he laid down the expectation from Air India of what the country and the consumers have come to expect from Tata group for many things for over a century, such as trust, quality, reliability, and consistency.

 It will require a huge transformation, probably the largest transformation and the change all of you would ever go through. In the context of Air India, if I may say so, we must start with ensuring that we are on time, every time, he said.”

I really appreciate the four core areas you identified for Air India on taking over along with the Tata’s values of trust, quality, reliability and consistency. I am sure these key result areas and values will find their way into redefining Air India’s mission statement in the days to come.

I would however like to suggest a very important addition and that is of  ‘Safety of Flight’ to the four core areas you talked about. One may debate that safety is already inbuilt into our vision when we mention reliability and quality.

However, I would like to emphasize that ‘Flight Safety’ actually forms the bedrock and soul of any aviation organization and needs to be recognized as a separate entity. In fact, it should be treated as the sea in which the other pillars grow and flourish. Very much like when we talk about ‘integrity’ in an organization.

The reason is really simple. All the good work put in towards technological modernization, customer experience and hospitality can come to a naught by just one bad and unsafe decision leading to an unfortunate catastrophe. So apart from what you so very well laid down, it is the ‘Safety of flight’ culture which needs to permeate the organization. That is fundamental to any airline being classed as ‘world class’.

I make this vital suggestion from the backdrop of my aviation career of close to four decades which has given me the privilege of flying multiple types of aircraft in varied weather and geographical conditions.

Obviously, the common man is generally suitably impressed with punctuality, hospitality and glitter, whilst being blissfully unaware of the fact that the airline or the pilot may be ‘living on the edge’ by taking chances that that they ought not to. Sadly, members of the public and very often people in higher management do not realize that lives have been put at stake.

We get interim reminders at regular intervals in the form of aircraft incidents and accidents. Quite often, the inquiries  bring out superficial truths and the easiest thing is to attribute such mishaps to “pilot error” whereas the reasons could be multi-fold ranging from design, corporate decisions, maintenance practices, work culture, training to even brain fade.

The influencing factors are innumerable and could be–pressure by the company, ego, reputation, homititis ( the urge to reach home early), competition, cost cutting in fuel expenses and engine hours, misplaced machismo and public expectancy to name a few. One or more of these human factors can lead the pilot to take unacceptable risks and sometimes even flout rules. So he chooses to tread where others fear to. Yeah! He pulled it off every time till now. Great deal- you happened to be aboard the  time when the swiss cheese holes aligned and he could not.

On the contrary, the wise owls tend to err on the positive side. The clear cut maxim being – if there is a Go – No Go situation, it is obviously No Go! The stakes are too damn high when the end result can be catastrophic. Matured pilots ride on two proverbial engines viz luck and capability. Even if the former runs out, he should be able to recover the aircraft with the latter. Taking prudent and wise decisions (albeight unpopular at times) certainly forms a part of his capability which can only develop if he has the backing of his senior management.

 Of all the virtues in aviation, needless to say, Safety is the biggest one. However, I understand you still can’t sell airline safety. The public takes it for granted!

I thought of sharing my thoughts with you as an energetic Maharaja steps out to take fresh gaurd towards accomplishing such an exciting journey. Looking forward to hearing from you,

Best wishes and bon voyage,

Horax (Casper)

Postscript: How does the tagline “Safely Home” sound for an airline?

First published at on 20/02/2022

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