Saturday, January 07, 2012

Directorate General of Civil Aviation pulls up airliners on safety issues

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) which had pulled up Kingfisher and State-owned Air India’s international budget carrier, Air India Express, for ignoring safety requirements, has also found serious lapses by other airlines on account of safety related issues.

The aviation regulator has rapped airlines like IndiGo, SpiceJet, Jet Airways, GoAir, Alliance Air and JetLite for issues like non-reporting of incidents, lack of pilots, proper and regular training, absence of qualified safety officials and non- compliance of safety audits.

A financial surveillance carried out by the DGCA found widespread sickness in the sector. Noting that this was impacting safety of flight operations, it recommended action against them under the Aircraft Rules and Civil Aviation Requirements (CARs).

The airlines have been given time till next week to come up with time-bound plans to rectify and resolve the problems identified in the financial audit.

The report is learnt to have been critical of IndiGo for suppressing information on aircraft incidents, which are minor accidents that do not cause major damage to aircraft or lead to injury or fatality.

Noting that investigation procedures adopted by the no-frill carrier were “improper’’, the DGCA report is learnt to have found that the airline closed investigations into several incidents either without reporting to the regulator or not getting its approval.

The aviation regulator is believed to have observed that IndiGo's “fast growth induction plan,” emanating from its 180 aircraft order to Airbus, needed to be reviewed. Maintaining that IndiGo had carried out large number of ``premature engine removals’’ in a short span between January and October last year, DGCA is believed to have sought a review of its ETOPs operations (extended operations). ETOPs limit long-distance flights by twin-engined aircraft and allow those having more than two engines. This could have an impact on the airline's international operations, sources said.

Similarly, Jet Airways has been pulled up for not fully complying with the 2011 audit plan and not having adequate number of trainers. The airline and its subsidiary JetLite were faced with shortage of commanders and having a serious backlog in imparting training to the cabin and cockpit crew.

The DGCA is understood to have pointed out that the Naresh Goyal-promoted carrier had cancelled as high as one- third of its flights due to poor loads, though the rate of cancellation was only 0.8 per cent in 2011.

Air India’s subsidiary, Alliance Air, has also “violated’’ rules by appointing a non-pilot as Executive Director (Operations), the DGCA is believed to have found.

While cargo carrier Blue Dart does not have a dedicated channel for two-way communication for aircraft, JetLite does not possess the software to monitor the Digital Flight Data Recorder (blackbox) and GoAir has not carried out engineering audits, a mandatory safety requirement.

Kingfisher is expected to come up with a time-bound plan to resolve deficiencies by Monday, Air India's low-cost arm Air India Express would also have to abide by similar conditions. All other airlines have also been given different dates over the next week to appear before DGCA, sources said.


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