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Aviation regulator puts brakes on Air India flights

business Updated: Jun 11, 2015 20:12 IST
Tushar Srivastava
Tushar Srivastava
Hindustan Times
Air India

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered Air India (AI) not to operate any of its A319s without a revised minimum equipment list (MEL) copy, after an inspection on June 8 revealed outdated copies on board an aircraft.

AI officials slammed the DGCA directive saying it was too “harsh” and against laid down international aviation rules.

The DGCA order, which came late on Monday night, sent AI into a tizzy as the 22 A319s constitute about one-fifth of the airline’s fleet. Sources said AI scrambled to arrange for revised MEL copies overnight to ensure its operations weren’t affected.

DGCA’s chief flight operations inspector Ajay Singh wrote to AI on June 8 that during a ramp inspection at Mumbai, the MEL copy on board A319 was Revision 1 dated June 2014, instead of Revision 2 dated November 2014 and ordered its grounding. “With immediate effect it is to be ensured that no A319 flight is to be dispatched on the basis of outdated MEL revision,” Singh wrote.

This was being “treated as a Level 1 finding,” Singh added.

AI officials said DGCA’s decision to call it a Level 1 finding was against International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) rules. “To treat it as Level 1 is absurd. It shows the decision was taken without application of mind. According to ICAO rules on air operator surveillance, having an MEL that isn’t approved is a Level 2 finding, for which an airline is given 30 days time to rectify. DGCA’s action is not justified as there was no threat to safety,” an AI official said.

While DGCA chief M. Sathiyavathy did not respond to HT, an AI spokesperson said, “Updating is a regular process and it was in process when the inspection took place”.