Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Near miss incidents: Taking steps for the flight of safety

The Indian airspace has witnessed many ‘near miss’ incidents in past two years for various reasons — foreign pilots not able to understand the directions of Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs), three planes flying at the same height, flight descending to the height where another one is already flying. However, according to the safety regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the number of such incidents have come down by 20 per cent in 2016-17.
As per the latest DGCA data, reviewed by The Indian Express, the number of near miss incidents in 2016-17 and 2015-16 were 24 and 30, respectively. The number of near miss incidents in the January to March quarter of 2016-17 is just four, compared with 10 incidents that occurred in the corresponding period of 2015-16.
“The ratio of number of near misses came down in the last year. If you look at the data, it is not too worrying. But, the government would like such incidents to be minimised. We want that the regulations should be followed, that much extra care has to be taken. But it is nothing to worry, Indian skies are safe and we want to keep these safe,” said a senior civil aviation ministry official, on the condition of anonymity.
All such incidents are investigated by the Airport Investigation Board that is constituted by the DGCA itself. Subsequently, these investigations are reviewed at DGCA for their “completeness” and processed for “implementation of recommendations”.
Based on the analysis of different near miss cases, the DGCA has decided that certain corrective steps need to be taken. These steps include counselling and training ATC officers and pilots about the “deficient parts” of the airplane. Moreover, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has formed a slot allotment committee to “reduce similar call-signs while deciding the slots”. An airline slot is a permission by a coordinator to use the full range of airport infrastructure necessary to arrive or depart at a Level-3 airport — where capacity is constrained due to lack of sufficient infrastructure — on a specific date and time.
Some of the other corrective steps taken by the DGCA are: “ATC officer’s and pilot’s proficiency checks are being carried out regularly. ATC services are being mordernised to include conflict warning in the system to assist ATC officer. Case studies of Airprox/ATC incidents are discussed and analysed to avoid recurrence of such incidents. Airlines have been directed to avoid the use of similar/confusing call-signs.”
The DGCA has also laid out the coordination procedures of handing over one unit to another person. It is trying to make sure that “coordination of handing over traffic to adjoining FIR (Flight Instructer’s Rating)” is worked out and “any deviation is being pointed out to the concerned units for corrective action”. Moreover, ATC officials are being given training on simulator at major stations and they are being “sensitised” on this subject, according to the DGCA.
10/05/17 Deepak Patel & Sunny Verma/Indian Express