Mariya Zuberi is rightly being called a hero after her actions stopped a tragedy from becoming much worse.
When her charter plane took off for a test flight in Mumbai, she quickly realized there were mechanical issues. The plane crashed, killing all four onboard, including Zuberi, and two people on the ground.
It’s a tragedy that could have been much worse if not for Zuberi’s quick thinking. Officials are saying she successfully steered the plane away from more densely populated areas, including away from several tall buildings.
And it wasn’t just quick thinking.
India’s former civil aviation minister, Praful Patel, tweeted that Zuberi sacrificed her own life to save others.
Saddened to hear about the unfortunate incident at #ghatkopar as Charter plane crashes in an open area. Salute to the pilot who showed presence of mind to avoid a big mishap, saving many lives at the cost of her own life. #RIP to all the 5 Dead. My deepest condolences.
— Praful Patel (@praful_patel) June 28, 2018
Zuberi, 47, reportedly ignored family pressure to become a doctor and instead pursued her dream of flying. She was doing what she loved and made the ultimate sacrifice to save others.
“She was a very good pilot, the first in her Muslim family to choose this profession,” said her husband, Prabhat Kathuria.
Yesterday’s plane accident in Mumbai was really a tragic one but the brave pilots saved other’s lives even at that moment.We feel proud of the them.
— V Satish (@v_shrivsatish) June 29, 2018
But it didn’t have to end this way.
The crash is a reminder about the seriousness of plane safety.
Zuberi’s husband says her co-pilot had expressed concerns over bad weather but that they were pressured to make a test flight in the 20-year-old aircraft anyway.
“The incident could have been averted,” he said.
Chartered plane crash in Mumbai is shocking. The plane operating company which is known for flouting #DGCA rules must be derecognised. Salute to the woman pilot who diverted the plane to save lots of lives. My heartfelt condolences to the families of all 5 who lost their lives.
— Sanjay Nirupam (@sanjaynirupam) June 28, 2018
2017 was a banner year for commercial aviation safety, the first time no official deaths were reported from crashes.
In April 2018, a woman died on a Southwest Airlines flight after an engine failure shattered the window next to her seat. A month later, a commercial plane in Cuba crashed, killing more than 100 on board. These incidents, like the one in Mumbai, have raised concerns about whether airline regulations are being enforced strongly enough.
Zuberi is a hero, and her legacy should inspire action to protect others going forward.
It’s important to investigate why the plane crashed and whether it should have been flown at all. Early reports indicate the plane had been grounded for several years for mechanical concerns. More importantly, the best way to honor the memory of Zuberi and her fellow victims is to take the proper steps to help prevent accidents like this in the future.