While the air ambulance that crashed in Faridabad last week clearly violated government rules on air safety, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) sees in this an anomaly that needs to be corrected because the rules treat domestic and international flights differently.
But the pressure is on the government to not let any tweaking of rules come in the way of affixing accountability for the crash that killed 10 people in a medical evacuation gone wrong.
The flight was in gross violation of the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) that forbid medical evacuation on single-engine planes on domestic routes.
“There is a certain ambiguity that needs to be dispelled. We shall shortly be issuing a circular to clarify this,” a top-level DGCA official said.
The CAR is laid down by the DGCA — the aviation sector’s safety regulator — and its rules must be followed in every flight operation in the country.
At stake are two different rules on pretty much the same issue.
While Clause 2.3 of the CAR on non-scheduled air transport services bans medical evacuation flights on domestic routes using single-engine aircraft, Clause 9.2 of the same document allows a similar aircraft to operate medical charters to international destinations.
Aviation experts and top government sources told Hindustan Times that going by the CAR it was clear that air safety rules were violated to operate the air ambulance last week.
Capt Mohan Ranganathan, a member of the Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council, cautioned against any misinterpretation of the safety rules that were violated.
“The spin doctors in DGCA are apparently trying to misuse the clause 9.2 which is meant for international operations,”
he said, saying the route on which the ill-fated air ambulance flew was clearly not an international one.
“Patna-Delhi is a domestic route and they cannot use this clause. The reason why we have had so many accidents is because the regulations are full of loopholes which are misused by corrupt officials,” Ranganathan said.
“The officials who gave the permission (for the Faridabad flight) have been thoughtless,” he said.