"Safety Has To Be Paramount": Suresh Prabhu On Airbus Engine Issue

Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said ensuring safety is a responsibility of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and "we have already directed them that at any cost, safety has to be paramount".

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'Safety Has To Be Paramount': Suresh Prabhu On Airbus Engine Issue

Suresh Prabhu said there is zero tolerance for any violation of relevant guidelines. (File)


New Delhi: 

With airlines in the country facing issues in Pratt & Whitney-powered Airbus planes, Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu today said passengers' safety has to be paramount and there is zero tolerance for any violation of relevant guidelines.

He said ensuring safety is a responsibility of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and "we have already directed them that at any cost, safety has to be paramount".

"(There is) zero tolerance for any violation of safety issues," the minister said during a Twitter livestream when asked about the issues faced by P&W engines, which are powering many A320 Neo aircraft in India.

The A320 Neos are manufactured by the Airbus. The GoAir has 49 planes in the fleet, 30 of which are Airbus A320 Neos.

"We have already given them complete freedom to operate. They (DGCA) have been directed to conduct safety audit not just of airlines but also all aspects of aviation, including aviation infrastructure. So, they are doing it," Mr Prabhu added.

The recurring glitches on the P&W-powered Airbus planes have forced the Wadia group-run budget carrier GoAir to ground seven A320 Neos.

P&W engine woes had forced both GoAir and IndiGo, (which operates 57 such planes) to ground some of the A320 Neos on earlier occasions too.

In a three-hour meeting on Tuesday, the civil aviation ministry met senior executives of P&W, Airbus, Indigo and GoAir to review frequent on-ground and mid-air glitches that the P&W engines, powering certain Airbus planes, have been facing since their induction in early 2016.

The DGCA on Wednesday said it will issue within a week an additional safety protocol directive to the airlines, which have been facing issues in P&W-powered Airbus planes.

Mr Prabhu today said the future revenues of Air India cannot service its "massive" debt and this legacy issue has to be segregated from the present challenges of national carrier.

"If you feel that future revenues can actually service the debt, it is not possible for the simple reason that the debt is so massive," he said during the livestream held on the topic "Flying for All: Global Aviation Summit 2019."

"Also, the cost of interest on the debt, when you try to service it from your revenues, the Air India can never be in profit. Therefore, we have to address the debt issue. We are proactively working with the Ministry of Finance to make it happen," he added.

"There is a financial restructuring plan in place. Unless you deal with the legacy issues, and till these legacy issues are not segregated from the present challenges for Air India, we will not be able to address the problem," he said.

The loss-making Air India is estimated to have a debt burden of more than Rs 48,000 crore and the government''s efforts for strategic disinvestment of the carrier failed in May last year.

"We have prepared a plan... we are trying to professionalise the entire management of Air India, right from the CEO downwards so that there will be a proper management structure so that Air India can reach to newer heights," he said.

"But anybody, who comes in, will ask this question 'how do I deal with the legacy'. The same question I had to address when I took over as a minister. The same question, Air India's new managing director or the new CEO or new board of directors would have to address -- how do I deal with the past?" he added.



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