Denying any shortcomings in safety regulations at Mangalore airport where an air crash killed 159 people May 22, the government on Tuesday said it was in the process of framing fresh regulations to ensure better air safety.
Replying to a calling attention motion in the Rajya Sabha, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said that no airport in the country can be called unsafe.
“No air proximity incident in the critical category has happened in the last few years, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is doing a satisfactory job,” Patel said.
The minister informed the house that a court of inquiry into the accident headed by Air Marshal (Retd) BN Gokhale is expected to submit its report by Aug 31.
Patel, however, urged that one accident should not be made the standard, adding that there were no security lapses in the airports in general.
“The international prescribed length for the overrun area is 90 metres, which was present at the Mangalore airport. The 240 metres, which has been reported is recommended, not mandatory,” Patel said.
“The pilots were not having any stress, they were well rested,” he added.
The minister, however, said a lot of improvement was needed and the ministry was working towards it.
“The ministry is keen to have an investigation and safety arm. We are also proposing to enhance the scope of DGCA. We are contemplating to make it an autonomous institution,” he said.
The minister added that a draft regulation on the concept of Safety Management System recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is also being considered. The DGCA has also started evaluating the financial health of the scheduled airlines and whether it has an impact on safety.
"The challenge before the DGCA is to manage phenomenal growth of air traffic without compromising on aviation safety," he said.
An audit is also on cards by the Airport Authority of India within a month at 11 airports -- Agartala, Calicut, Jammu, Kullu, Latur, Leh, Lengpui, Mangalore, Patna, Port Blair and Shimla.
The minister said the issue will also be taken up with the defence ministry with regard to the defence airports.
Moreover, three ICAO technical projects in the area of flight safety, aerodrome standards and navigation services have also been commissioned by the DGCA to enhance its safety oversight capabilities, he said.