You don’t have to be a frequent flyer to appreciate the fact that the aviation industry is going through a harrowing phase. An exchange of e-mails (copy with MiD DAY) between officials from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Air Traffic Control (ATC) illustrates the acuteness of the situation. The communication reveals that a DGCA official, who was part of an important investigation, was deliberately denied access to important information that led to the situation escalating.
“It may please be noted that the undersigned is part of an investigation team pertaining to an ATC incident. It has been observed recently that neither the preliminary report nor intimation is being provided to the undersigned. For the above-mentioned incident also the same situation prevails. The preliminary report, which we are expected to pass on to DGCA headquarters along with our comments, has not been forwarded to me. This leads to everything getting delayed,” reads the e-mail from the deputy director, DGCA (Mumbai region) to the joint general manager, ATC (Mumbai region), dated September 27, 2012.
“It is once again very humbly requested that the details of the aforementioned incident kindly be forwarded along with the other information. Number of occurrences have been attributed to runway occupancy time; therefore, it is requested that the SMS for the same also be dispatched,” the e-mail continues. The DGCA official is also part of the Air Investigation Team (AIT) that probes cases of air mishaps and near misses. A copy of this e-mail was sent to many senior officials, including deputy director general (DDG) of DGCA at Delhi, Lalit Gupta.
Top sources from both departments revealed that following this communication, DGCA asked ATC Mumbai office to provide relevant details of the particular episode to the concerned DGCA official without delay.
On October 29, the joint general manager of ATC finally mailed the report to the DGCA official, saying, “Dear madam, as discussed over telephone, the required documents are attached to this mail.” In reply, the DGCA official wrote, “Thanks for the report. As you are aware I am part of the AIT. Hope in future I will be treated respectfully and all documents relevant for AIT will be supplied to me. For conducting investigations professionally it is pertinent that all the team members come prepared for discussions of all the cases being probed. Hence, documents must be provided to all concerned AIT members.”
On November 5, this newspaper revealed (‘Fake reports tried to hush up near misses at airport’) how a probe team comprising AAI and DGCA officials filed reports based on a sham inquiry after spending five months procrastinating. When one of the panellists slammed the investigation, the two reports were buried.