Friday, December 07, 2012

Flights carrying passengers without surveillance: report

Several flights ferrying thousands of passengers in the country operate without the aviation regulator’s surveillance, according to the report submitted by a government independent air safety committee.

The report by the Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council (CASAC), a body set up after  the Air India Express crash at Mangalore in 2010, states that majority of the flight operation inspectors (FOIs) appointed by the aviation regulator for the critical surveillance job barely turn up at work.

The FOIs’ job entails regular monitoring whether airlines are following the safety procedures prescribed by the DGCA that includes cockpit en-route inspection, aircraft cabin inspection and evaluating simulator checks by aircrew.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had appointed these senior pilots on deputation to make up for its shortage of full time FOIs. As a result, the pre-condition for the job was serving the regulator’s office for at least four days a week.

But an attendance sheet for the month of September produced by CASAC shows that none of the 21 pilots selected for the job reported to work for 16 days. In fact, 12 of them were present for less than 10 days.

“The CASAC has pointed out this violation several times but the nobody is willing to take action,” said Captain Mohan Ranganathan, member CASAC.

Considering the time-consuming nature of the job and its bearing on passenger safety, the DGCA has asked airlines to nominate pilots who do not hold senior managerial positions.

But the report states that even that parameter was violated. Of the 21 FOIs, 19 hold crucial managerial positions in domestic airlines. “Three of FOIs worked with
Kingfisher Airlines which is bigger violation because the airline’s license is currently suspended,” said Captain Ranganathan.

The report gains importance as its findings have come to light a week before the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) audit on flight safety standards in the country.

Incidentally, the global policy maker for air safety norms had slammed the DGCA over shortage of FOIs and lack of surveillance during its audit in 2006.

“I hope the DGCA is able to explain such serious safety violations to the ICAO,” added Captain Ranganathan.

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