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HindustanTimes Fri,28 Nov 2014

Key info being hidden in safety lapse probes, says AAI official

Soubhik Mitra, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, December 29, 2012
First Published: 02:03 IST(29/12/2012) | Last Updated: 02:04 IST(29/12/2012)

A senior official at the aviation safety department of Airports Authority of India (AAI) has alleged that the Mumbai operator and officials of the aviation safety regulator are withholding crucial information in a few ongoing probes into safety lapses.

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The official, Mangala Narasimhan, deputy general manager with the aviation safety department of the AAI on Friday skipped a routine safety assessment meeting in the city to discuss the status of these probes. In a letter to all committee members, she claimed that despite repeated correspondence with the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and her own superiors in the AAI, she was denied information pertaining to cases of safety lapse. She also alleged that information is being held back to cover-up the incidents. A copy of the letter is with the Hindustan Times.

Among the cases discussed in the meeting on Friday was the collapse of a jet blast fence at the Mumbai airport in July. A large section of the fence, meant to protect airport workers and slum dwellers from powerful jet discharge, was found lying outside the airport boundary. A critical ground navigation aid that guides pilots during poor visibility was also damaged in the incident.

“MIAL officials denied sharing data on the specification of the new blast fence and other relevant details of the probe. Since information is intentionally being held back, participating in the probe would be a mere formality,” said Narsimhan.

She added that MIAL officials were not transparent about the relocation of a ground-based aid next to the airport’s main runway. “It seems that a group of senior officials wants me to blindly sign on safety probe reports, which is against my principles,” she added.

An MIAL spokesperson said, “We are obliged to send the reports to DGCA, which we submitted two months ago. It is up to the DGCA to decide on dissemination.”

DGCA chief Arun Mishra was not available for comment.


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