NEW DELHI: A record 422 air safety violations were detected by India’s civil aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in 2016 against 275 in 2015.
According to the data provided by the DGCA in 422 air safety violations, 272 pilots including crew members were suspended, 42 pilots were kept off roaster, and 108 pilots got a warning.
SpiceJet reported the highest number of suspensions in 2016, followed by Jet Airways, 53 and 41 IndiGo pilots and crew members facing suspensions for air safety violations.
Massive rise in air safety violations in 2016 comes at a time when the United Nations’ aviation watchdog, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is coming to India later this year for a 10-day safety audit of DGCA.
The outcome of the audit will have consequences for the expansion plans of airlines such as Jet Airways (India) Ltd, Air India and the international launch plans of the Tata-Singapore Airlines joint venture Vistara, which will meet government norms to go international in 2018.
In 2012, after an audit of the DGCA, ICAO had placed India in its list of 13 worst-performing nations in terms of air safety oversight.
This had triggered an audit by the US aviation regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and in January 2014 the latter downgraded India’s ranking, citing a lack of adequate regulatory oversight. However, after 15 months the ratings were restored in 2015.
During the 15 month downgrade period, Indian carriers were not allowed to add new routes to the US or sign agreements with US airlines.
Interestingly, finance minister Arun Jaitley in the annual budget for 2017-18 announced on February 1 has given DGCA a hike of a massive 800 percent to Rs 230 crore from Rs 28 crore during the last budget.
Sources said with 800 per cent hike in budget, DGCA would undergo further modernization and put on roll more experts and investigators besides ensuring international standards in its functioning as was suggested by the ICAO and USFAA earlier
Meanwhile, the DGCA has called pilots and DIAL officials for questioning in the IndiGo-SpiceJet flight face off at IGI airport that took place on December 27 last year.
The IndiGo flight had just arrived from Lucknow with 160 passengers and Spicejet flight with 187 on board and was about to take off for Hyderabad when the two aircraft came close to each other.
On Friday, the DGCA called IndiGo pilots and two DIAL electricians for questioning. Earlier, an IndiGo flight had overshot in front of SpiceJet.
According to a top DGCA official, SpiceJet flight SG 123 operating Delhi-Hyderabad was following instructions of Air Traffic Control (ATC).
While taxiing (going to the runway for take-off), the SpiceJet pilots observed another aircraft on the same taxiway in the opposite direction and immediately the SpiceJet pilots stopped the aircraft and informed ATC.
IndiGo in this regard had issued a statement claiming that its pilots had followed standard procedures and took the decision of switching off the engine and reported the incident to ATC.
The DGCA had reported this to be a miscommunication with the ATC and had started investigating.
*December 2, 2016 -- near miss incident between Jet Airways Boeing 737-800 and an Alliance Air ATR turboprop over Nagpur.
*October 22, 2016 -- GoAir aircraft did not follow the instructions issued by the Goa ATC. In the second incident, also being probed by DGCA ,
*November 2 --- IndiGo Airbus A320 plane and a KLM Boeing Dreamliner aircraft came into close proximity on November 2 over Jaipur airspace with vertical seperation reduced to 200 feet.