Keeping skies safe for flying

Updated on Jul 28, 2022 08:29 PM IST
The Director General of Civil Aviation’s decision on SpiceJet is welcome because it underlines the importance of safety
The limit is unlikely to make a material difference to the airline’s operation since it was operating at 50% of the approved capacity in recent days. This is largely because the summer peak season begins to taper off, with the occupancy rate showing a decline from July. (PTI) PREMIUM
The limit is unlikely to make a material difference to the airline’s operation since it was operating at 50% of the approved capacity in recent days. This is largely because the summer peak season begins to taper off, with the occupancy rate showing a decline from July. (PTI)
ByHT Editorial

India’s aviation regulator this week took SpiceJet to task after the budget carrier reported a slew of incidents that posed a possible threat to passenger safety. In an interim order on Wednesday, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) capped the airline’s departures at 50% of the number approved. Between March 27 and October 29, the airline was originally allowed to carry out 4,192 departures. The limit is unlikely to make a material difference to the airline’s operation since it was operating at 50% of the approved capacity in recent days. This is largely because the summer peak season begins to taper off, with the occupancy rate showing a decline from July.

Nonetheless, the interim order spelt out why the woes at SpiceJet were significant. First, in recounting what happened, the regulator placed on record a summary of worrying incidents: Planes turning back or flying with “degraded safety margins”, “poor internal safety oversight and inadequate maintenance actions”, and a shortage of spares and equipment because the airline was operating on a “cash-and-carry” basis. Second, DGCA’s decision to place any restriction signalled it was not convinced by the airline’s explanations over these incidents. SpiceJet was served a notice on July 6, asking why action should not be taken because it “failed to establish safe, efficient and reliable” services. The company responded on July 25, and while DGCA noted measures were being taken, the airline still had to “sustain these efforts”, the regulator said.

DGCA has now placed the airline under enhanced surveillance. This is indeed welcome. The regulator has to put safety above all else – even as it ensures that there is no disruption on either the number of flights or the quality of the flying experience. It was only this year that DGCA was upgraded in a key review by the United States transportation watchdog Federal Aviation Authority, and maintaining this upgrade is crucial because it not only influences the fate of Indian aviation companies, but ultimately indicates how safe Indian skies are.

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Thursday, August 11, 2022
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