Friday, January 31, 2014

Russian Senators Propose Tougher Aircraft Safety Rules

MOSCOW, January 31 (RIA Novosti) – A group of Russian senators has proposed banning using passenger aircraft older than 15 years in a bid to tighten airline safety only weeks after a plane crash that claimed the lives of all 50 people onboard.

The proposal appears to come in defiance of advice from senior aviation experts, who insist the age of aircraft is not a key factor in determining whether it is safe to fly.

The bill submitted to the lower house of parliament Thursday introduces several amendments aimed at toughening controls over aircraft safety and imposing harsher punishments for violations of safety rules.

Russia has for years been blighted by a dismal flight safety record. Most accidents occur on internal flights run by small regional airlines whose safety standards have often been found to be lax.

Andrei Golushko, a Federation Council senator who jointly drafted the bill, say the proposed legislation will clarify procedures for overseeing operations in air transport and raise the responsibility of companies operating aircraft to international standards.

“It is important that the bill introduces the principle of constant monitoring of safety and potential risks, because preventive measures are essential for flight safety,” Golushko said.

The document envisions the use of video-recorders in the cockpits and flight-simulators. Professional education and training for directors of aircraft operators, as well as pilots and technical personnel, is to become mandatory.

The bill also introduces tougher fines for falsification of pilot’s training and health records, as well as for attempts to conceal accidents involving aircraft.

State Duma lawmakers earlier proposed to ban the operation of aircraft older than 20 years.

The legislative initiatives have been promoted despite the insistence of Russian aviation authorities that the age of an aircraft was generally not a key issue in determining safety.

Moscow-based International Aviation Committee says its statistics show that the number of disasters worldwide involving aircraft with 50 or more seats was the same for both planes less than five years old and those built more than 30 years ago.

The latest major deadly air crash in Russia happened in November and involved a 23-year-old Boeing 737 operated by Tatarstan Airlines.

The plane carrying 50 crew and passengers on board had previously been involved in two incidents and underwent major repairs before being bought by the Russian airline.

Preliminary investigations made public so far appear to point to possible pilot error, however.

Source:   http://en.ria


US Federal Aviation Administration downgrades Directorate General of Civil Aviation over aviation safety fears

NEW DELHI: Exposing the gross inadequacy of our aviation regulator to ensure safe air travel here, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has downgraded India's aviation safety ranking.

India has now been put in category II of safety ranking, from category 1 that directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) was in earlier.

The decision was conveyed to DGCA's new chief Prabhat Kumar by an FAA delegation on Friday. The downgrade means that Indian carriers will now not be able to add flights to US. Also aircraft of Indian airlines that fly there — Air India and Jet Airways — can be be held indefinitely for checks there, which will make it difficult for them to adhere to schedule.

The first to be hit could be Air India which is supposed to join Star Alliance this summer. A number of US carriers are also part of this alliance but American laws prohibit them from entering into commercial relations like code share — a vital part of an alliance. So now if they will be able to do so with AI or not remains to be seen. Jet already has a code share with United.

India had for years been trying to evade a downgrade by US FAA due to the serious implications of such a move on Indian carriers by making tall claims on strengthening DGCA. But all that was mainly on paper and in reality the government has struggled to find someone to even head the regulatory agency.

After a recent audit last year, FAA found 33 inadequacies in the DGCA.

Like in the past, the government this time also tried to get away by making tall claims but the FAA did not buy the same now.

"This is a true reflection of the DGCA. Unlike the past when India and US ties wee very good and hence DGCA avoided a downgrade, the relations are not so strong now and hence the move. This will have very serious implications for Indian airlines," said a source.

The current category II ranking of India means that DGCA does not meet the norms of International Civil Aviation Organization standards in areas like technical expertise, trained personnel and record-keeping or inspection procedures.

Aviation minister Ajit Singh will brief the media on Friday afternoon on the issue.

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