NEW DELHI: Fearing yet another downgrade, India’s civil aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) wants all 23 international airports across the country to ensure they upgrade their operational standards, customer outreach and infrastructure to world standards — to impress the international civil aviation watchdog’s team during its visit in March 2017.
A top government official told Express that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is more concerned about international operations and so, international airports need to tune up. Incidents involving commercial aircraft have been increasing at international airports in India, something which is also
disturbing Indian authorities ahead of the ICAO visit.
India has witnessed over 25 near-miss incidents in the past year involving commercial aircraft according to the DGCA, of which at least 15 have occurred at Chennai, Mumbai and Jaipur — all international
airports. Incidentally, the Mumbai and Chennai international airports alone cater to around 35 per cent of
international inbound and outbound traffic.
A senior ministry official pointed out that near-miss incidents have become rampant at the Mumbai airport as it caters to more flights while its infrastructure is limited.
Similarly, the Chennai international airport also has been facing increasing near-miss incidents besides dozens of incidents of glass panels and sections of the false ceiling falling ever since the airport was renovated and modernised in 2012. These incidents have put the lives of passengers at risk forcing
the National Human Rights Commission to intervene, though the incidents continue unabated. A survey last year found that the Chennai airport was the seventh worst in Asia.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in January 2014 downgraded India’s civil aviation sector citing safety oversight and lack of infrastructure at airports and manpower at DGCA.
Though the downgrade was withdrawn in March 2015, there is looming danger that the
downgrade may recur, which has been brushed aside by India, as it claims it has largely addressed their concerns. The FAA’s decision to downgrade was taken after two visits by the ICAO in 2013 which pointed fingers at India’s lack of will to address issues and bring services at par with international standards prescribed by the ICAO.