Safety of Air Travel: 478 Technical Snags Reported in Past One Year; DGCA Took Action in 21 Instances, Says Govt
Moneylife Digital Team 28 July 2022
During the past year, up to 30 June 2022, airlines in India reported 478 technical snags. After conducting surveillance, spot checks and night surveillance, the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA), has taken action in 21 instances. Further, during the current month, 12 aircraft have been grounded for various technical discrepancies, the Lok Sabha was informed. 
In a written reply, Jyotiraditya M Scindia, minister for civil aviation, says, "During operations, an aircraft may experience technical snags due to malfunctioning of components or equipment fitted on the aircraft which require rectification action by the airlines for continued safe, efficient and reliable air transport service. These technical snags are reported by the flight crew on receiving an aural or visual warning in the cockpit or an indication of an inoperative or faulty system or while experiencing difficulty in handling/ operating the aircraft. A total of 478 technical snags were reported in last one year from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022."
Sougata Ray, a member of Parliament (MP), has asked for details of technical snags and failure of safe, efficient and reliable air services reported in the country and the steps taken by the ministry. He also asked about the mechanism to check safety and security measures related to air journeys and details of action taken to prevent the recurrence of such types of air safety violations.
Responding to another question asked by MPs Ravindra Shyamnarayan alias Ravi Kishan Shukla and Ravindra Kushawaha, the minister informed the lower house that during the ongoing inspection and investigation by DGCA in July, 12 aircraft have been grounded for various technical discrepancies. 
"During the last three months including the current month, due to system malfunction there were four incidents wherein the operating crew declared emergency," Mr Scindia says. 
According to the minister, DGCA has a laid down mechanism of conducting surveillance, spot checks and night surveillance of the airlines and organisations and personnel to ensure safety of passenger and aircraft. The observations and findings made during surveillance, spot checks and night surveillance are provided to the airline for taking corrective action. 
The action taken to correct the observations are reviewed and the findings are closed or, in case of violations, DGCA takes enforcement action in accordance with laid down procedures which may consist of warning, suspension and cancellation including imposition of financial penalty to the personnel involved/ airline. 
He says, "A total of 177 surveillance, 497 spot checks and 169 night surveillance have been carried out by DGCA on engineering and maintenance aspects of scheduled operators during the last one year till 30 June 2022."
"...enforcement action has been taken by DGCA against responsible personnel or post holder of the airline operator in 21 instances of violations, which inter-alia includes suspension of license, withdrawal of post holder or approved personnel to the airlines involved in the maintenance of aircraft, and issuance of warning letters," Mr Scindia says. 
"In view of findings of various spot checks, inspections and the reply to the show cause notice submitted by SpiceJet, for the continued sustenance of safe and reliable air transport service, the number of departures of SpiceJet are restricted to 50% of the number of departures approved under Summer schedule 2022 for a period of eight weeks," says the order issued by the civil aviation regulator.
During these eight weeks, the airline would be subjected to 'enhanced surveillance' by DGCA.
A spokesperson for SpiceJet, however, says that the carrier had already rescheduled its flight operations due to the current lean travel season, like other airlines, and there will be no impact on its flight operations. 
Earlier this month, SpiceJet's Delhi-Dubai flight was diverted to Karachi due to a broken fuel gauge. Later, its Kandla-Mumbai flight made a priority landing in Mumbai when cracks appeared in its windshield mid-flight. A SpiceJet Boeing 737 freighter cargo plane, on route to Chongqing in China, returned to Kolkata due to unserviceable weather radar. 
A SpiceJet flight heading towards Dubai from Delhi was diverted to Karachi in Pakistan due to some technical malfunctioning in the aircraft. "The SpiceJet B737 aircraft operating flight SG-11 (Delhi-Dubai) was diverted to Karachi due to an indicator light malfunctioning," a senior airline official told IANS.
A SpiceJet flight landed safely in Mumbai with its outer windshield of the cockpit cracked. The incident took place on SpiceJet flight SG-3324 operating from Kandla (Gujarat) to Mumbai by a turboprop Q400 aircraft. At around 23,000 feet height, the outer pane of the windshield on the co-pilot's side cracked, but the cabin pressurisation was observed to be normal.
On 19th June, a Delhi-bound aircraft with 185 passengers on board was forced to make an emergency landing in Patna after one of the wings caught fire. On take-off, during rotation, the cockpit crew suspected a bird had hit on one of the engines. As a precautionary measure and as per standard operating procedure (SOP), the captain shut down the affected engine and decided to return to Patna.
Earlier this month, on 2nd July, the crew of a Jabalpur-bound SpiceJet aircraft, while passing at 5,000 feet, noticed smoke in the cabin, after which the pilots decided to return to Delhi.
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