Alarmed by the deteriorating state of affairs at the financially-crippled Kingfisher Airlines (KFA), the aviation regulator has ordered a fresh safety audit of the carrier.
“To be on the safe side, we have decided to go for safety surveillance of all their operating
aircraft,” said Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) chief EK Bharat Bhushan. “I don’t want to give the impression that these aircraft are unsafe in any way but it is better to be cautious.”
Kingfisher is currently operating 28 of its 64 aircraft.
A previous audit by the DGCA in December had noted that a reasonable case existed for withdrawal of KFA’s permit.
But Bhushan, who met the airline’s CEO Sanjay Aggarwal Tuesday, ruled out any punitive action against the airline, which violated rules by canceling flights without informing the regulator.
There has been some criticism of the DGCA’s response to the Kingfisher crisis. “They (DGCA) just don’t want to act proactively on any safety issues,” said aviation safety expert Captain Mohan Ranganathan. “The DGCA should suspend KFA's operating permit until it gets its act together and clears all outstanding dues.”
The airline, he said, was involved in "serious infringement of aviation rules".
“Safety audits conducted by the DGCA have all been a farce. People who conduct the audits have no clue what to look for and even when they find something, they don’t act,” he said.