NEWDELHI: The DGCA has always had a tough choice to make between ignoring influential businessmen and ignoring safety of flying aircraft. However, it is obvious which way its decision has always been, given the safety violations that recently came to the fore through the financial audit of airlines.
“The ambitious Annual Surveillance Programme, launched by the DGCA, was a regular audit of airlines that brought to light many violations that were viewed seriously by the DGCA itself. However, little was done about them,” an aviation expert told the Express.
Many airlines were in violation of the mandatory reporting of incidents that came under the Air Safety Circular in Section 5 of Civil Aviation Requirements. “The corrupt officers in the DGCA have written off these incidents as snags,” a pilot regular to the DGCA office said.
“The FDTL violation under the amended act carries a punishment of six months and/or `5,00,000 fine. Why no pilot/company has been charged and judged guilty till date? AI Express flies Dubai-Trichy-Singapore regularly and each sector takes more than 4 hours. But they are told to log less than 8 hours. It is not that the DGCA is not aware,” a flying instructor with the national carrier revealed.
“For instance, while a Jet Airways is being pulled up by the regulator for not posting despatchers in Hyderabad, an Indigo is allowed to have a central despatcher set up,” he added.
“While current DG Bharat Bhushan has taken many bold steps to improve safety, his officers are not working in the same spirit. It is also true that the ministry under Praful Patel had focused on rapid expansion of the airline fleet without building the necessary infrastructure to operate and maintain it. While it was happening, the DGCA kept their eyes closed on aspects of safety for the fear of incurring displeasure of the minister,” a member of the civil aviation safety council said.
“Aviation safety is a very complex issue. There are not many experts in India who can make a professional presentation. There are much less experts in the DGCA with real knowledge, experience or understanding of the aircraft or aviation systems, including airports and air navigation services,” an official from the ministry said.