Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Aviation safety: Before two close shaves, many compliance violations

Two close calls on Tuesday buttress the need to redouble the focus on safety checks in the country’s aviation sector. For flyers though, the cause of worry is the fact that every third day, on an average, there was a reported irregularity by an airline pilot during the last year and the first ten months of this year. These were largely violations pertaining to breathalyser testing, flight and duty time limitations (FDTL) breaches and violations of cockpit and cabin discipline rules.
According to DGCA data, a total of 208 irregularities by pilots of various airlines was reported over the last year and in the current year 2016, alongside a total of 15 irregularities by airlines during the period. Officials indicated that in all these cases, “relevant enforcement action” has been taken against the pilots and the airlines concerned.
The bulk of the irregularities last year were related to breathalyser testing violations, with Jet Airways, Indigo and Air India reporting the highest number of cases. This year, till October 31, the bulk of reported cases involved FDTL violations, with Spice Jet logging the highest number of irregularities, alongside violations related to breathalyser testing, where Air India and Jet Airways reported the maximum number of cases. Worrying still is the fact that during the first ten months this year, a total of 38 pilots and 113 cabin crew tested alcohol-positive during the pre-flight medical examination for consumption of alcohol.
Data collated over a longer time frame — over the last three years and the first ten months of this year — showed a total of 409 safety violations by the flight crew of Scheduled Operators, Non-scheduled Operators and general aviation that were reported to the DGCA. These include deficiencies in ramp procedures, violations of PPC (Pilot Proficiency Check), non-compliance for FDTL requirements, non-compliance of pre-flight medical requirements, crew over-logging training hours and unauthorised entry into cockpit. The incidents include a recent surveillance carried out by DGCA, where it was found that one of the scheduled airline was not strictly adhering to the regulatory requirements regarding breath analyzer check as laid down in the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR).
Officials said that in cases involving crew members testing alcohol-positive, in accordance with the provisions of CAR (Section 5 Series F Part-III, Issue-III), the DGCA had suspended privileges of license of pilots and privileges of authorisation of cabin crew and the airlines have been forced to ground all these pilots and cabin crew.
28/12/16 Anil Sasi/The Indian Express
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