Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Flying getting riskier in India as safety incidents surge

New Delhi: It’s getting increasingly unsafe to fly in the world’s fastest-growing aviation market.
Air safety incidents that prompted regulatory action reached 280 this year, beating the 275 all of last year, data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation showed. At this pace, the number may rise to more than 400 by the end of 2016, making it the worst in three years for aviation safety, according to New Delhi-based DGCA.
The DGCA is cracking down on safety violations by airlines in recent months, including a slew of offences such as aircraft getting too close to each other, overworked staff and inebriated pilots and crew. In the latest incident, the DGCA ordered Jet Airways India Ltd and state-owned Air India Ltd to file police complaints against pilots who were found drunk, seeking legal action for the first time ever in such cases.
The Indian aviation market, which saw air traffic grow 20 per cent last year — double the pace of China’s, according to International Air Transport Association — is struggling to find enough officials to ensure safety of flights. That was one of the reasons why the US Federal Aviation Administration downgraded India’s aviation safety rating in 2014, before restoring it a year later following some corrective measures.

Drunk pilots

This month, two commanders from Jet Airways and Air India were found drunk minutes after they both piloted international flights, although without any incident. The regulator also asked Air India to initiate police action against a crew member for the same offence. If found guilty by a court, all three of them face a year in jail, or a fine of Rs500,000 (Dh27,480) or both. Their licences remain suspended for four years.
“Jet Airways has zero tolerance towards any action of its crew that contravenes safety standards mandated in the airline’s operating manual approved by DGCA,” the company said in an email, adding it had fired the employee who had tested positive in a breath analyser test on August 3.
Air India spokesman G.P. Rao didn’t respond to requests for comments.
16/08/16 Bloomberg/Gulf News
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