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Is Air India safe to fly, asks Opposition; govt defends safety record

The government on Tuesday faced tough questions over the way state carrier Air India was being run, with members wanting know if it was still safe to fly aboard its planes, but civil aviation minister defended the loss-making carrier made no comprises with safety.

india Updated: May 04, 2016 00:43 IST
“There are about 10 sheets giving details of 120 times when Air India aircrafts have made emergency landings. But the reply (of the Centre) is as vague as could possibly be,”Congress leader Ambika Soni said.
“There are about 10 sheets giving details of 120 times when Air India aircrafts have made emergency landings. But the reply (of the Centre) is as vague as could possibly be,”Congress leader Ambika Soni said. (Hindustan Times)

The Centre on Tuesday faced tough questions over the way state carrier Air India (AI) was being run, with members wanting know if it was still safe to fly aboard its planes.

However, civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said AI made no compromises on safety.

Congress leader Ambika Soni pointed out the spurt in the number of emergency landings. “In fact, there are about 10 sheets giving details of 120 times when Air India aircrafts have made emergency landings. But the reply (of the Centre) is as vague as could possibly be. Sir, not one incident in the reply has been given as to what were the common factors which came out after inquiries of emergency landing, and what steps the airline has taken to rectify those factors,” Soni said.

Raju said all incidents involving aircraft operations were subjected to thorough probe by the aviation regulator, director-general of civil aviation and Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau. He said safety recommendations arising from such probes were followed.

“We follow a very safe procedure for all airlines, including Air India. I do not think there is a problem. But, here, we see out of 120 emergency landings, during the last three years, till March, 2016, 102 emergency landings have been due to medical reasons and 17 landings due to technical reasons,” he said.

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Seeking specific answers, Soni aksed how many emergency landings were because of poor maintenance and servicing. “And, what has the ministry done in this regard?” Raju said of 17 emergency landings, probes were completed in eight cases. “Two are still under of. Five are classified serious incidents. Investigations are going on,” he said.

MP Prem Chand Gupta asked him to clarify why AI’s Dreamliner Boeing’s long-range wide-body aircraft had to frequently return after take-offs during flights to Australia and Europe. Raju said: “Sir, maintenance is not neglected in India. We have a proper audit in place.”