Ahead of another safety audit by the United Nations-appointed aviation regulator, India’s air safety regulator is trying to add some tooth to its air mishap investigation outfit.
But, industry experts have reservations whether the ‘stopgap’ arrangements such as contracted jobs for safety experts will help Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) pass the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) audit, which is scheduled to be conducted this year.
Last month the DGCA invited applications for the posts of air safety directors on a short-term basis. According to the DGCA’s circular, the job entails investigating air mishaps, precautionary landings, forced landings, air misses and other potential hazardous situation arising from air operations.
“The credibility of India on the safety front is poor worldwide, only a positive proactive action can help convince the world,” said Captain Mohan Ranganathan, former member of the Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council.
Lalit Gupta, joint director general with the DGCA in charge of the department of air safety did not respond to HT’s calls.
Experts added that accident investigations require about a year-long training. “The DGCA is offering a one-year contract for the openings. Therefore, even if they fill the positions it would add no value,” said a former DGCA chief requesting anonymity.
Also, there is lack of clarity over the powers of the new recruits. “It would a lot of time to provide statutory powers to recruits. That is likely to restrict their roles,” said a senior civil aviation ministry official requesting anonymity.
Until last March, the Air Accident Investigation Bureau, an independent air mishap probe cell formed under the civil aviation ministry faced flak for its dismal record. The agency had managed to close only 9 out of the 28 cases assigned to it.
The ICAO had named India among 13 countries with the most dismal air safety establishment following its previous audit in 2012.