Airlines, Aviation Norms, Civil Aviation, DGCA, Flight Safety

Fingers crossed as UN body comes to audit DGCA, airlines next week

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The exercise starts Monday with ICAO’s audit of the Indian aviation regulator.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Indian airline companies are in a last-minute rush to prepare for the 11-day safety audit by International Civil Aviation Organization.

The exercise starts Monday with the audit of the Indian aviation regulator. This will last till November 10.

After that, the United Nations’ aviation watchdog will randomly pick up any of the seven scheduled airlines and subject them to its audit till the process ends on November 16.

The audit is conducted to check DGCA’s compliance with norms and procedures related to airworthiness of planes, pilot training, legislation, licensing, safety procedures at the airports and air traffic control, operations, cabin safety, cockpit sanctity, accident investigation, air navigation and aerodromes. Aviation safety is at the core of ICAO’s fundamental objectives.

DGCA’s last audit by ICAO – done in 2012 – didn’t go very well for it. The UN body had placed India in its list of 13 nations with worst aviation safety standards. That ignominy led to the US Federal Aviation Authority downgrading India in 2014. This meant that Indian airline companies could not add any more routes to their network in the US or enter into new codeshare agreements with airlines flying to that country.

FAA restored the grade in 2015 but the history has left its impressions which can only go away after a good long track record.

The DGCA has hired 75 flight operation inspectors for various airlines on a contractual basis to meet the ICAO norms. The DGCA has aligned most of its rules — called civil aviation requirements – as per ICAO norms, an official with an airline said.

This is the first time ICAO will audit Indian airline companies in a random manner. Quite naturally, officials at DGCA and the airline companies are praying for the entire exercise to pass smoothly to prevent any repeat of 2012.

Questions over safety standards do not sit well with a nation that is the third-largest market by the number of local passengers flying annually. The country is among the fastest growing aviation market in the world with the local traffic expected to touch 126 million in 2017-18 on a growth rate of 22 percent.

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