A government-appointed safety panel set up after the Air India Express crash at Mangalore in 2010 is likely to be dissolved, fear air safety experts.
The Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council (CASAC), a body comprising senior pilots, air traffic managers, airfield experts, retired Air Force officials and aviation doctors, ended its term on Sunday.
According to sources in the civil aviation ministry, the government has no plans to continue with the panel. “An extension is under consideration. We are examining if the same team should continue or a new panel should be appointed,” said Nasim Zaidi, civil aviation secretary. Zaidi refused to give a timeline for the same.
Aviation experts blamed differences between CASAC members and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the country’s aviation safety regulator, for the likely scrapping of the panel.
For instance, on April 16, CASAC members had criticised the regulator’s decision to ground a Jet Airways pilot for choosing to abort landing at the last minute while operating a flight from Delhi to Singapore. The council argued that since a “go-around” is the recommended safety procedure for flights expected to make unstable landings, punishing pilots could endanger passenger safety.
About a week later the DGCA dismissed a complaint submitted by CASAC against three employees of a private airline. According to the complaint a pilot with the airline was operating flights without completing mandatory safety checks. The complaint also accused an instructor pilot and the airline’s chief executive officer of giving false accounts of the training procedure to the DGCA.
“The ministry should have laid down the scope of work for CASAC to avoid such run-ins. Dissolving the council would be a loss for air safety,” said Vipul Saxena, an aviation expert. He added an independent body of aviation professionals was needed to monitor air safety better.