Homeaviation News

    Air travel is safe and safety non-negotiable, says DGCA DG Arun Kumar

    Air travel is safe and safety non-negotiable, says DGCA DG Arun Kumar

    Air travel is safe and safety non-negotiable, says DGCA DG Arun Kumar
    Read Time
    6 Min(s) Read
    Profile image

    By Anu Sharma   IST (Published)

    Mini

    “There is a bit of hype and unnecessary hoopla around normal events. Several times, a reject take-off or missed approach is actually a safety manoevure and enhances safety. Air travel is absolutely safe and our record is terrific,” Directorate General of Civil Aviation Director General Arun Kumar said.

    Indian aviation regulator means business and safety is non-negotiable, Indian aviation regulator chief Arun Kumar told CNBC-TV18 in an exclusive interview.
    “There is a bit of hype and unnecessary hoopla around normal events. Several times, a reject take-off or missed approach is actually a safety manoevure and enhances safety. Air travel is absolutely safe and our record is terrific,” Directorate General of Civil Aviation Director General Arun Kumar said.
    The regulator keeps a regular tab on the Indian airlines  via annual surveillance plan, spot checks, night surveillance and cockpit surveillance so that only airworthy aircraft are in operation, Kumar added.
    “Annual surveillance programme is the backbone of safety oversight,” Kumar said.
    Also read:
    A total of 177 surveillance, 497 spot checks and 169 night surveillance have been carried out by DGCA on engineering and maintenance aspects of scheduled operators during the last one year between July 2021 and June 2022.
    Based on the violations found during surveillance, spot checks, night surveillance carried out during 2021-22, enforcement action has been taken by DGCA against responsible personnel of an airline in 21 instances of violations.
    “Aircraft is a complex sturdy machine with lakhs of components and its usage is very rigorous. India has a very young fleet and their flight dispatch reliability is one of the best in the world. Once in a while, technical snags are possible and a standard operating procedure as per globally approved norms is followed in case of any technical snag,” Kumar said.
    “Passengers affected via flight diversions or delays won't be happy but safe navigation is our priority. As per last one year data, one aircraft sees 0.6 snag in a year. There may be 1-2 technical incidents in a day across 6000 flight movements. A pilot has to be alert and attentive when it comes to any sign of technical snags. Many times, an indicator for a technical snag may be false but a pilot has to respond to that as well as per SOP,” Kumar added.
    He further said that technical glitches can and do happen in Indian aircraft as well as in foreign registered aircraft. In fact, there have been five technical glitches in foreign airlines reported over the last five days.
    “Countries globally face technical snag incidents in aircraft, India is not an exception. We guarantee safety by following SOP and processes prescribed. Technical glitches in aircraft are not a matter to lose sleep over or to panic about. Technical snags will happen and we have to handle them with maturity. The hullabaloo over technical glitches in aircraft is unjustified,” Kumar said.
    The matter of air safety has come into focus over the last month after multiple incidents of technical glitches were reported across airlines including SpiceJet, GoFIRST, IndiGo, Air India, Vistara and Air India Express related to engine glitches, windshield crack, smoke in cabin, equipment malfunction among others.
    While there is a usual spike in incidents during the monsoon season, the recent situation does indicate weak focus on aircraft maintenance by the airlines.
    The airlines in India and over the world witnessed one of the worst nightmares over the last two years due to weak traffic, unused aircraft and bleak revenue environment. The net loss for Indian carriers is pegged at around 18,500 crore in FY21 and for FY22 it is expected to be over Rs 20,000 crore.
    On the other hand, while there has been recovery in traffic, the numbers have not been able to hold and the domestic traffic is currently around 70-75% of pre-COVID level. As a result, while fares are high they are not aiding the revenue environment as airlines are not able to utilise 100% fleet due to lower demand.  In addition, there are steady headwinds of heavy taxation on aviation turbine fuel and a weak rupee. Hence, several industry experts indicate that there is an underlying issue of capitalisation and airlines continue to strengthen their cost-cutting steps.
    Recently, after instances of aircraft clearance by junior engineers, DGCA issued an order to all airlines mandating them to depute senior engineers to okay an arriving or departing aircraft. The aim of the order is to ensure efficiency in aircraft maintenance with correct identification of snags.  
    With 100-120 aircraft expected to be added every year to the Indian aviation market, regular and efficient maintenance will be key for smooth operations. The current fleet of Indian airlines includes 692 aircraft, of which IndiGo leads with 283 planes, then Air India at 116, then SpiceJet at 87, GoFIRST at 57 and Vistara at 56.
    Low-cost carrier SpiceJet has been under enhanced radar by the regulator after multiple incidents of technical snags were reported at the airline over the last two months. This followed a showcause notice to the airline on Jul 5 and now a cap has been imposed on the airline whereby it is allowed to operate up to 50% of its summer schedule.
    “We took action on SpiceJet as the airline currently does not have capacity to operate more than 50% flight operations. It is an unprecedented action on a scheduled carrier's capacity in Indian aviation history. Our objective is to ensure a safe and efficient running of an airline, not close down a running airline. SpiceJet has shown signs of improvement and they are more careful now. SpiceJet engineers are working day in and day out, and ensuring that aircraft with any technical snag does not operate,” Kumar said.
    Wage dispute has also emerged at the Indian airlines over the last two years as airlines implemented salary cuts. Recently, several cabin crew and technicians at IndiGo and GoFIRST went on mass leave as a mark of silent protest towards low wages. While the matter of wages is solely between an employer and employee, the regulator clarified that there is some role for it when it impacts safety.
    “There is some role for us in wage dispute at airlines when it comes to safety. There is a role for us to intervene when employees are disgruntled, not working or not reporting. We had intervened when there was an issue with two airlines regarding wages,” Kumar said.
    As part of the annual surveillance plan for 2022, the DGCA will conduct 3700 checks. In line with the increasing work simultaneous with expanding fleet size, the regulator also plans to increase its workforce by 100-150 people over the next 6-8 months for night checks and enhanced monitoring.
    Check out our in-depth Market Coverage, Business News & get real-time Stock Market Updates on CNBC-TV18. Also, Watch our channels CNBC-TV18, CNBC Awaaz and CNBC Bajar Live on-the-go!
    arrow down

      Most Read

      Market Movers

      View All
      CompanyPriceChng%Chng