Friday, July 08, 2022

Can incidents involving SpiceJet be brushed aside as blip?

New Delhi: It is not every day that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the regulatory body that deals with India’s air safety, issues show-cause notice to an airline for allegedly failing to establish “safe, efficient and reliable air services”.

One such notice went to SpiceJet on Wednesday. The the Ajay Singh-led airline was involved in nine air safety incidents since May 1st.

Three of those were reported on July 5 alone, which included a flight diversion to Karachi. On July 2nd, another SpiceJet plane returned to Delhi due to smoke in the cabin. Meanwhile, a Vistara aircraft suffered an engine snag after landing in Delhi from Bangkok on July 6th.

Speaking to Business Standard, aviation safety expert Captain Amit Singh said, there has been a general rise in incidents in last 6 months. We‘ve seen accidents with trainer aircraft, small planes and helicopters. But the Indian aviation industry is apperently happy with doing the bare minimum.

The DGCA said that a review of several incidents involving SpiceJet’s planes since April 1 showed that “the aircraft either turned back to its originating station or continued landing to the destination with degraded safety margins”.

In response, SpiceJet said all its aircraft were audited a month ago by the regulator and found to be safe. Ajay Singh said a lot of these incidents are trivial in nature and happen to every airline.

DGCA chief Arun Kumar too said that about 30 flight incidents happen every day in the country and a majority of them have no safety implication. However, the strong words used by DGCA in its notice to SpiceJet have raised an alarm.

A review of incidents by the watchdog showed “poor internal safety oversight and inadequate maintenance actions” by the airline.

During a financial review of the airline in September, it found that SpiceJet’s suppliers were not being paid regularly leading to a shortage of spares.

Captain Amit Singh said, DGCA’s comments on SpiceJet highlights systemic failure. Regulator’s action is coming too late, said, adding that DGCA has regulations in place, but implementation is the problem.

08/07/22 Krishna Veera Vanamali/Business Standard

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