After Kingfisher, Air India Express, aviation regulator raps other carriers

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New Delhi:  Aviation regulator Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which had come down heavily on Kingfisher and Air India Express for ignoring safety requirements, has also found serious lapses on part of other carriers on major counts.

NDTV has now accessed the full report which points to serious safety concerns among almost all the leading airlines in the country like IndiGo, SpiceJet, Jet Airways, GoAir, Alliance Air and JetLite. They have been slammed by the DGCA 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 regulator found widespread sickness in the sector. Noting that this was seriously 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.

On Kingfisher, the report said, "A reasonable case exists for withdrawal of their (Kingfisher's) airline operator permit as their financial stress is likely to impinge on safety."

Regarding Air India Express, it said, "A prima facie case exists for restricting their operations in view of safety issues."

The report is also understood to have rapped 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-frills carrier were "improper", the DGCA report is understood to have found that the airline closed investigations into several incidents either without reporting to the regulator or not getting its approval.

Keeping in mind several deficiencies, DGCA 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.

When asked, IndiGo told NDTV that thei engine removal policy is in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration's air worthiness directives. "Our staff - pilots, cabin crew and engineers - are strongly encouraged to report all safety related issues. We have established a culture of non-punitive reporting," the airline said.

Similarly, Jet Airways has been castigated 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.

Denying these reports, Jet Airways said, "The operations of our airline are carried out with the highest safety standards. Jet Airways is in compliance with international safety rules and all DGCA regulatory norms."

The DGCA report also slams GoAir saying the number of trained pilots are very less in the company and that the engineering audit for the year 2010 have not been carried out as planned.

To this, the airline said, "Yesterday, GoAir's management met DGCA and shared with full reciprocal satisfaction the results of their safety audit."

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

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 week to appear before DGCA, sources said.

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(With PTI inputs)



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