NEW DELHI: India’s civil aviation sector is among the fastest-growing markets in the world, but it is certainly not among the safest. The Sunday Standard, which reviewed all final investigation reports of air accidents submitted to the government in the last three years, has found that as many as 21 people have died in 44 air accidents in Indian skies since 2014.
Considering there is a UN safety audit around the corner, these facts could adversely impact the expansion plans of airlines in India. The UN aviation watchdog, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), is coming to India later this year for a 10-day audit of the country’s air safety readiness. In 2012, the ICAO had placed India in its list of 13 worst-performing nations in terms of air safety. In 2014, US aviation regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration, had also downgraded India’s ranking. Though the ratings were restored after 15 months, Indian carriers were not allowed new routes to the US or sign agreements with US airlines during this period.
Till August 1, the Aircraft Accidents Investigation Bureau (AAIB), which probes air accidents, had submitted its final report in only 23 of these 44 cases. According to the reports, cause of these accidents range from pilot’s wrong assessment, bad weather to technical snags. These accidents include those involving commercial airlines, private jets and helicopters.
Among commercial airlines, nine Jet Airways flights, four SpiceJet flights, an Air India and IndiGo plane each were found involved in accidents. Also, it was learnt that the average time for completion of investigation in air accident cases has been 1.9 years, which implies that the Ministry of Civil Aviation has been unable to ensure time-bound investigation. Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha recently submitted in Rajya Sabha a list of air accidents since 2014, but the list only mentioned 28 accidents.