SilkAir denials that one of its former senior captains had warned it about the behaviour of the pilot of a Boeing 737-300 which crashed days later have been contradicted by the captain. The warning was said to have been given days before the accident on 19 December, 1997.
Former SilkAir captain Mohan Ranganathan says he left SilkAir in late 1997, partly because of concerns about the "abuse of aircraft" by Capt Tsu Way Ming, who was in command of the 737-300 which crashed, killing all 104 people on board. The accident is being investigated as "suicide-cum-murder" by Singapore police.
The statement appears at odds with SilkAir's public comments that it "had not had a pilot resign over concerns about Capt Tsu, as has been alleged". SilkAir says: "We stand by what we said earlier. The captain [Ranganathan] did not, at any time, cite Capt Tsu as a reason for leaving SilkAir."
In a letter obtained by Flight International, dated 15 December, 1997, Ranganathan gave notice to SilkAir that he did not wish to renew his contract. While he does not cite Tsu in this letter, focusing instead on safety concerns at SilkAir, Ranganathan says he met airline head of flight operations, Capt J Ganapathy on 17 December, when he complained about Tsu.
"That was when I expressed my misgivings about Tsu. I told him [Ganapathy] that I could handle various emergencies that I can see, but I can't handle emergencies created by abuse of aircraft by pilots like Tsu," says Ranganathan.
"I had been concerned about Tsu Way Ming's attitude and outlook to flying. There had been complaints from captains [when Tsu was flying as a first officer], although the matter never went to the management pilots," he says.
SilkAir dismisses the allegation as "secondhand information, hearsay and rumour". Tsu was facing three disciplinary actions, severe debt and had been demoted before the crash.