UN says India amongst the worst in air safety
- 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
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
"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."