Friday, January 03, 2020

Fog disruptions: Air passengers continue to bear the brunt of ineffective regulation

Severe winter and dense fog conditions in north India have again resulted in the annual spectre of hundreds of flights being delayed, diverted or cancelled. Weather conditions are not controllable, but the flight disruptions can be reduced if the aviation ecosystem — especially airlines and the regulator DGCA — tackles the situation better. The crux of the problem is that airlines are not investing adequately in getting their pilots and aircraft ready to tackle poor visibility brought about by severe weather conditions — and that the DGCA is not taking airlines to task over this slip. CAT III A and CAT III B are the most severe weather conditions to fly in and are currently being faced at many airports in north India. Key airports such as Delhi have developed the necessary infrastructure and are equipped to function in such conditions, but many aircraft and pilots are not. As a recent report in this paper pointed out, airlines argue that with the cost of training a pilot to be CAT III B compliant running into crores of rupees, it does not make sense to train all their pilots to fly under such conditions as these poor visibility conditions occur for a maximum 10 days in a year. Equipping aircraft with compliant equipment is also costly. For operations under CAT III B conditions, all three — the pilot, the co-pilot and the aircraft — have to be certified. India has about 3,600 pilots trained to operate a flight under CAT III B conditions.
02/01/20 Business Line
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