India’s fears of being marked poorly by the United Nations’ aviation watchdog, which is assessing air safety standards in the country, grew on Wednesday, after Air India’s cabin crew accused the airline of of rampant safety violations.
In a l etter, sent to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on August 21, the Union also alleged that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has been turning a blind eye to these lapses.
“We have reported more than 5000 safety violations on long haul destination flights alone, over the past three years. However, as the DGCA has ignored them, we were left with no choice but approach the ICAO,” said a member of the All India Cabin Crew Association, requesting anonymity.
The union, representing cabin crew personnel operating AI’s long distance international flights, also threatened to report the matter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US aviation regulator scheduled to begin its audit on September 9.
Some violations highlighted by the crew include understaffing long distance flights and inadequate resting areas for in-flight crew.
According to the crew, flights with travel time of up to 16 hours should have at least 16 flight attendants.
The DGCA had also said if the head count was below that the airline is not permitted to serve food on board.
However the complaint claimed that AI offers three meal services on such flights.
The AICCA further stated that the airline is supposed to offer bunk beds to crew for rest on board, but the violation continues.
“Flight duty rules have been created so that cabin and cockpit crew can tackle flight fatigue Fatigue on board could incapacitate the crew and endanger passengers’ safety,” said an independent air safety expert requesting anonymity.
Despite several attempts to contact him, DGCA chief Arun Mishra was not available for a comment.