India’s civil aviation ministry to sharpen its inspections

LONDON – After many SpiceJet traumas, the civil aviation ministry will be creating a number of substantial posts at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to enhance its safety oversight function, union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has said.

Issues


Up until now, the Indian DGCA has completed 202 surveillance inspections up to today in this fiscal year, according to Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi.

One of the main reasons for those extra inspections is that SpiceJet suffered 2 in-flight incidents; on October 12, a Bombardier Q400 of SpiceJet suffered from smoke in the cabin, and on October 14, another SpiceJet aircraft suffered from the same symptoms of smoke in the cabin.

Mr. Scindia responded to the letter of Priyanka Chaturvedi, saying: “I have had the matter examined. Based on the preliminary investigation, evidence of engine oil was found in the engine bleed-off valve, which had led to oil entering the aircraft air-conditioning system resulting in smoke in the cabin.”

“You would appreciate that the surveillance inspections as per the annual surveillance plan for SpiceJet have been increased to 47 in 2022-23 as against 33 in 2019-20.

“Further, overall, 155 surveillance inspections were carried out on aircraft in 2019-20. In the year 2022-23, 202 surveillance inspections have been completed so far,” the minister said in his response to Ms. Chaturvedi’s letter.

“In addition, the ministry has decided to strengthen the DGCA.”

The observations made by DGCA were communicated immediately to SpiceJet for rectification, the minister said, adding, “DGCA is keeping a close watch on the situation and shall take all appropriate action to avert any untoward incident.”

The ministry and DGCA place the “highest importance on the safety of air operations” and have taken several proactive measures to enhance the safety of air operations and minimize air occurrences, Mr. Scindia said in the communication.

Mr. Scindia said that the DGCA has capped the maximum operations for SpiceJet at 50% of the approved flights for the summer schedule for eight weeks following a number of safety flaws found during the inspections.

The flight capping was extended to October 29, but it was removed on October 21 because of the start of the winter season, which will commence from October 30 to March 25, 2023.

Moreover, he said that DGCA continues to take proactive measures to ensure that the level of safety standards is maintained by the airline.

In case of any non-compliances, DGCA ensures that appropriate enforcement action is taken, Mr. Scindia said.

Ms. Chaturvedi said that even though the passengers have the right to choose which airlines they want to fly, it is the airline’s responsibility to improve the safety standards as they are putting the safety and well-being of the flight crew at risk for not having any safety net.

“In view of the inadequacy of the earlier actions taken despite spot checks and investigations by the DGCA, I request you to take necessary and appropriate actions to ensure maintenance of the highest level of safety standards by the airlines,” she had stated.

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