DGCA clears the air on matters of safety

Jan 10, 2012, 08:01 IST | Bipin Kumar Singh

A two-part investigation note points out several violations by nine airlines, including Kingfisher

A two-part investigation note points out several violations by nine airlines, including Kingfisher

The accent is on making the skies safer. And Kingfisher appears to be bearing the brunt. However, MiD DAY is in possession of a two-part detailed note prepared by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which points out several violations by eight other airlines, i.e., excluding Vijay Mallya's carrier.

Safety first: According to the DGCA note, nine airlines have violated
norms. Pic for representation

The report, which was later submitted to EK Bharatbhushan, Director General, DGCA, has been prepared by Deputy Director General, DGCA, Lalit Gupta, over two different dates. According to the note prepared on December 7, 2011, five airlines were found breaching safety norms.

Alliance Air: The airline appointed a non-pilot as ED, Operations, which is a breach of civil aviation requirement. Shortage of commanders. Shortage of trainee pilot on ATR (Avions de Transport R �gional, an Italian-French manufacturer) type aircraft. Only one instructor and one examiner available for the entire fleet of ATR.

JetLite: Acute shortage of operating personnel. Training backlog due to shortage of TRE/TRI (type rated examiner/type rated instructor). Airline does not possess software to monitor Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) recorded parameter exceedances. 

SpiceJet: Airline does not have a qualified instructor for its Boeing 737 fleet in order to impart training.
Blue Dart: Airline does not have a dedicated communication channel in dispatch for two-way communication with the aircraft.

IndiGo: In view of premature engine removals, extended operations (ETOPS) of the airline need a review. The investigation report procedure of incidents is improper as a large number of incidents are considered closed after a single-page report by the company, without approval of DGCA. The details of malfunction reflected in snag reporting forms indicate that a few incidents were not reported by the airline. The company has therefore suppressed information. FOQA (flight operations quality assurance) threshold parameters have been set up with unrealistic considerations. Shortage of training examiners/instructors. Backlog in training.

This note also pointed out that all the above-mentioned airlines did not set up environmental cell as called for in Aviation Environment Circular 01 of 2009.

The second note prepared on December 27, 2011 named four airlines as violators including Kingfisher.
Air India Express: The operational control of chief of operations is not effective. There is shortage of pilots, check pilots, instructors, examiners, and cabin crew. The company does not have a deputy chief of flight safety. The airline is not able to operate the entire fleet, due to acute shortage of pilots. FDTL (flight and duty time limitations) monitoring not computerised. Backlog in training due to shortage of training pilots.

Jet Airways: Number of trainers not in accordance with DGCA requirements. Backlog in training of pilots for B737-NG aircraft. Backlog in cabin crew training. International stations not audited for two years by the flight safety department. Audit plan 2011 of safety not fully compiled. Airline has not inducted or recruited pilots to cater to the operational plan of 2011. In spite of low cancellation rate of flights in 2011 (0.8 per cent), the airline cancelled 1/3rd of flights due to poor loads.

GoAir: Number of training captains is very less compared to total number of pilots in the company. Engineering audits for the year 2010 have not been carried out as planned. FOQA counselling data is available only from May 2011 for operating crew. Key positions in company not filled. Engineering department does not have software to track or monitor inventory of aircraft spares and rectification data.

Kingfisher: Out of total 64 aircraft, 20 are grounded due to want of spares and other components. Shortage of 12 engines for seven aircraft of Airbus 320. Most spares of ATR aircraft not available. The airline is involved in cannibalisation of parts. MEL (minimum equipment list) extensions have increased in the year 2011 indicating lack of spares. A total of 24 pilot left the airline in the last two months. During winter schedule 2011 the airline did not operate 175 flights. Most of the employees unpaid up to 2011.

In this note the auditor also pointed out that Air India Charters Limited (AICL) and Kingfisher have major financial distress issues. Jet Airways, JetLite, SpiceJet, and GoAir have some financial issues whereas IndiGo has displayed some rapid growth.

What the auditor says
MiD DAY spoke to DDG, DGCA, Lalit Gupta who prepared this two-part note. "All the airlines were called last week and have been asked to submit a foolproof plan, addressing the safety irregularities found in the report by January 13," he said.

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