Investigations into the recent safety lapses in Mumbai and the western region airspace are yet to begin. Reason: the freeze by the aviation regulator on the free air tickets issued by the government for safety officers on official assignments.
Minor lapses such as emergency landings at Nagpur and Ahmedabad were reported in the last two weeks.
But, the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) is cautious about issuing air tickets for official work, after the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) found earlier this year that a senior official was misusing these tickets. The CVC had found that the officer of the rank of a deputy director had used official tickets worth lakhs for leisure travel by his family.
DGCA chief Arun Mishra confirmed the move. "We are reviewing the process of issuing tickets for official duty. The facility should be used purely for safety checks. So, we want to hand over the responsibility of approvals to a senior competent officer," said Mishra.
Although Mishra said that the freeze on travel would be lifted as soon as the new team is formed, safety experts claimed that such delays could result in compromising on safety.
"Operators have ample time to tamper with evidence. The issue should be sorted on priority," said an independent air safety expert, on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Though the safety lapses were minor, the delay in gathering preliminary evidence could hamper the probe, said officials.
The routine safety audits, too, are pending. For instance, safety officers from the across the country were scheduled to travel to Delhi on July 31 to conduct a regulatory check on low-cost carrier Spicejet Airlines, but the inspection has been put on hold.