Four senior executives of SpiceJet were issued show cause notices by DGCA on Thursday after a special audit team of the aviation regulator, which probed multiple landing incidents involving the airline, found lapses on their part, according to sources privy to the development.
"The audit team of the DGCA went to audit the airline on July 3. They have given a report stating that four persons -- Chief of Flight Safety, Chief of Operations, Chief of Training and Accountable Executive -- have been found to be breaching safety standards," a source told PTI.
The show cause notices, which PTI has accessed, were issued to GP Gupta, Accountable Executive; Capt. GPS Grewal, Chief of Flight Safety; Capt. SPS Suri, Senior Vice President - Operations; Capt. Vishal Sawhney, Head of Training.
In its notice to the airline's operations chief Suri, the DGCA has said that in majority of the cases that required corrective training or action, the involved crew "has been given counselling".
The special audit team of Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA also found that the Deputy Chief of Training of the airline has counselled the involved crew "telephonically" even for the "events" where "corrective training" was required.
In its show cause notice to the company's training chief Sawhney, the DGCA stated that he "has not undergone Safety Management System training".
The notice said, "Head of Training has not constituted any SAG (Safety Action Group) within the department to discuss and resolve critical safety issues concerning training."
It added that Vishal Sawhney or his deputy has not attended any SRB (Safety Review Board) meeting although they were duly notified by the company's flight safety chief Grewal.
In an airline, the SRB has to make sure that appropriate resources are provided to achieve the established safety performance. The SRB also gives strategic direction to the Safety Action Group (SAG).
In its notice to GPS Grewal, the DGCA stated that he did not ensure implementation of "Safety Management System" in flight crew training department.
The notice said that GPS Grewal's department "failed to report" the "occurrences" or incidents to the DGCA, as is mandatory under the regulator's rules.
The company's accountable executive GP Gupta was told that "there is a lack of implementation of Safety Management System in the organization".
"The Flights Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) exceedances on the individuals reflecting procedural lapses were not actioned or were delayed by the Operations department," it said.
FOQA is the process of obtaining and analyzing all kinds of data from flights in order to improve the safety and efficiency of flight operations. Whenever a safety parameter limit is exceeded, it is called an exceedance.
As per the notices, the aforementioned four executives of the company would have to respond within 15 days to the DGCA.
A SpiceJet spokesperson said, "We are in receipt of the show cause notices issued by the DGCA. The concerned officials will submit their replies within the timeframe given by the regulator."
"Safety is the core value of our operations and is a shared objective of both the DGCA and SpiceJet. We will take all possible steps that may be required to further strengthen our safety mechanism," the spokesperson added.
The DGCA action against the company comes even as the main runway at the Mumbai airport remains shut after a SpiceJet plane from Jaipur veered off it while landing amid heavy rainfall on Monday night and got stuck in the adjacent grass area.
On June 30, another SpiceJet plane from Bhopal veered off the runway at Surat airport due to heavy rainfall and wind.
On July 2, another SpiceJet plane veered off its path on the runway while landing at Kolkata airport, damaging four runway lights. On the same day, an Air India Express flight coming from Dammam had a tail strike while landing at Calicut airport.
Another Air India Express flight veered off the taxiway after landing and got stuck in soft ground at the Mangalore airport on June 30. On the same day, a GoAir flight coming from Bengaluru had a tail strike while landing at Ranchi airport.
The DGCA has already instructed the airlines to ground 12 pilots that are involved in the aforementioned six incidents.
The aviation regulator has started a special audit of all airlines and airports in monsoon-affected areas in the wake of multiple landing incidents across the country.