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UN says India amongst the worst in air safety

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  • Thiagarajan Arunachalam
    From: karmayog - tanya http://www.livemint.com/Politics/nADuFwi7nSGPdJPZEXrnJK/UN-report-raises-air-safety-concerns-in-India.html UN report
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 11, 2013
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      From: karmayog - tanya <info@...>


      UN report raises air safety concerns in India

      India clubbed with Kazakhstan, Haiti, Congo; regulator found wanting in
      ability to oversee airlines, aircraft

      Tarun Shukla
      First Published: Sun, Mar 10 2013. 11 24 PM IST

      New Delhi: The United Nations (UN) aviation watchdog has expressed grave
      concerns on India's air safety, placing it among the 13 worst-performing
      nations on this count, according to excerpts of an audit report.

      The International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao), of which India is a
      member, completed an audit of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation
      (DGCA) in December and found it wanting in its ability to oversee safety

      "Icao has identified a significant safety concern with respect of the
      ability of this state (India) to properly oversee its airlines (air
      operators) under is jurisdiction," it said in its latest report, parts of
      which Mint has reviewed.

      The organization has clubbed India with Angola, Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea,
      Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Lesotho, Malawi, and Sao
      Tome and Principe.

      A DGCA spokesman dismissed the concerns as "procedural issues".

      "We have taken corrective action, which has been accepted by Icao," the
      spokesman said. "This will be implemented by June 2013. Then we will invite
      Icao's team to verify the action taken."

      In its report, which is yet to be made public, Icao has also questioned
      India's oversight on all aircraft operations, including charters and
      business jets.
      "Icao has identified a significant safety concern with respect to the
      ability of this state (India) to properly oversee aircraft under its
      jurisdiction," the global agency has said.

      This is not the first time Icao has raised such red flags. In its earlier
      audit in 2006, the organization had warned about air safety oversight in
      India, after which the US aviation regulator threatened to downgrade India's
      safety ranking, a move that would have stopped Indian carriers such as Air
      India Ltd and Jet Airways (India) Ltd from adding additional flights to the
      US and forcing extra ramp checks on aircraft at US airports. The matter was
      taken up by the two governments and resolved.

      India has a patchy air safety record in recent years. Nearly 300 people have
      lost their lives between Icao's 2006 audit and the latest one completed in
      December. It conducts these audits every six years.

      As many as 158 people died in India's worst air crash in a decade in
      Mangalore in 2010 when an Air India Express flight IX-812 overshot a hilltop
      runway, charring people to death, including women and children, because
      rescue did not reach them in time.

      The record of charter aircraft has been worse. Arunachal Pradesh chief
      minister Dorjee Khandu was killed with four others after when a Eurocopter
      B8 Pawan Hans helicopter crashed in bad weather in May 2011.

      Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy died when his state
      government-owned Bell 430 helicopter crashed in a dense forest while flying
      to a village in Chitoor district in September 2009.

      Ten people, including seven on board a medical ambulance aircraft of Air
      Charter Services India Pvt. Ltd, were killed when the flight to Delhi from
      Patna crashed into the roof of the two houses near the national capital in

      The findings of the audit are alarming, according to Denzil Keelor, a former
      chief of the Indian Air Force and a former aviation regulator.

      "It's a very damaging statement," Keelor said, adding that DGCA has failed
      in its primary obligation to provide safe passenger travel. "Icao has made
      this remark because they (DGCA) have not been able to justify that they have
      been able to do their job," he said.

      Keelor said the main reason for this is that DGCA is being run by
      bureaucrats and not experts such as pilots.

      "The government is not serious about flight safety. Many DGCA officers are
      completely compromised. The first thing they do is ground the pilot (in case
      of an accident)," Keelor said. "You have to prevent accidents and incidents,
      and not cure them."

      India is expected to be the fastest growing aviation market till 2031,
      Boeing Co. said in September.

      The government had six years to make up for gaps found in the 2006 audit,
      but it was busy giving permission to private airlines to import aircraft and
      not ensuring there were enough people to watch over their upkeep, said Mohan
      Ranganathan, a member of the civil aviation safety advisory committee that
      was set up by the government after the Mangalore crash.

      "The rapid deterioration in safety in the past one year is of serious
      concern," Ranganathan said. "Several aircraft were written off (scrapped),
      it did not wake them up. Several lives were lost, it didn't wake them up.
      Maybe this international shame may wake them before more lives are lost." 

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