Wednesday, July 20, 2022

DGCA conducts spot checks of planes, identifies reasons for increase in technical snags

With airlines reporting multiple technical malfunction incidents, the DGCA has announced that it conducted spot checks and discovered an insufficient number of engineering personnel certifying planes of various carriers before their departure. An aircraft maintenance engineer  (AME) inspects and certifies the aircraft prior to each departure. The DGCA has now issued guidelines for airlines on the deployment of AME personnel, with a deadline of July 28.

The spot checks also found that the AME teams of airlines are improperly identifying the "cause of a reported defect," the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)'s order noted. They also found that there has been an "increasing trend of MEL (minimum equipment list) releases" of aircraft, it said. "MEL releases" means an aircraft is allowed to fly with certain inoperative equipment or instruments for a specific period of time until the repairs are done.

"It is also seen that airlines are resorting to frequent one-off authorisation to Category A certifying staff at transit stations which is not in line with existing regulatory provisions," the DGCA said.

The engineering head of one of the Indian airlines explained that a Category A engineer is called a 'limited scope engineer,' and he or she is allowed to certify and release planes for departures only when the aircraft does not have any complex defect. The Category B1 engineer is one step above the Category A engineer, and he or she is capable of handling mechanical defects. Similarly, Category B2 engineering is capable of handling defects in the electronic equipment of planes.

The DGCA said: "It has been decided that all aircraft at base and transit stations shall be released by certifying staff holding AME Category B1/B2 license with appropriate authorisation by their organisation." The regulator told airlines to position Category B1 and Category B2 engineers at all base and transit stations and make sure that required tools and equipment are available.

"Alternatively, you may opt for sending the certifying staff on flight duties," the DGCA mentioned. The DGCA said that its directions must be complied with by July 28.

The airline engineering head, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that it will be very difficult for airlines to place Category B1 or Category B2 engineers on all transit stations.

"If I operate one flight per day from Jorhat or Jharsuguda, how can I keep two Category B1 or B2 engineers -- which are anyway in fewer numbers -- just to certify and release that one flight," the head explained. There have been multiple technical malfunction incidents in Indian carriers' planes during the last one month.

20/07/22 Zee News

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