DGCA comes up with rules for ground handling agencies for first time | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

DGCA comes up with rules for ground handling agencies for first time

Jul 10, 2024 12:48 PM IST

In a statement, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said the rules published on July 8 have been formulated given the growing airport ecosystem

Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has come up with rules for the first time specifying the training and competency requirements for ground personnel for safe operations and to strengthen the oversight mechanism.

DGCA said the ground handling staff plays a pivotal role in safe and efficient ground airport operations. (HT PHOTO)
DGCA said the ground handling staff plays a pivotal role in safe and efficient ground airport operations. (HT PHOTO)

In a statement, DGCA said the rules to be implemented over six months were published on July 8. “The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has published the Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) Section 4 Series X Part II, on 8th July 2024 prescribing the framework for safe operations...[of ground handling agencies] after an extensive consultation process with all stakeholders,” the statement said. “The implementation of this CAR will standardise the requirements across the ground handling agencies [and] strengthen the oversight mechanism.”

The DGCA said the ground handling staff plays a pivotal role in safe and efficient ground operations at the airports. “The robust safety mechanism to be implemented prospectively by the ground handling service providers (GHSPs) would help in prevention and mitigation of ground incidents at the airport thereby enhancing the quality of services rendered in safety-sensitive functions.”

GHSPs are third party organisations who provide ground operations and ground handling services to airlines and aircraft operators. India has at least 10 GHSPs.

The move comes after a revised safety circular on apron safety management was issued last week. This revised circular, officials in the know said, was issued after the DGCA’s internal findings revealed lapses on the part of the drivers working under various GHSPs.

The DGCA cited the “phenomenal growth of aircraft movements, the corresponding increase in complexity of ground operations and proliferation of third-party ground handling services” and said it has become imperative to establish safety standards. It added ground handling has hitherto been uncovered under any existing regulations and that the rules have been formulated given the growing airport ecosystem.

One of the recent incidents that was brought to the DGCA's notice took place on May 18 in Pune when an Air India Airbus A321 (registered as VT-PPK) suffered damage to its centre wing section after being struck by a pushback tractor during pushback of flight AI 858 from Pune airport to Delhi. After the accident, the passengers were deboarded and made to fly on another flight to Delhi.

Following this incident, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had given instructions to the ground staff of all airlines to carry out their daily operations carefully. A three member team of the DGCA too had to fly down from Delhi to investigate the incident.

The DGCA on Wednesday acknowledged the importance of the ground handling staff at airports. It added ground handling agencies are a critical element of the airport aviation ecosystem. “The safety, efficiency, and reliability of flight operations, in turn, are dependent on the safe and efficacious functioning of Ground Handling Agencies,” it said.

Commenting on the development, Murali Ramachandran, chief executive officer (CEO) of Celebi Aviation that provides ground handling services at nine airports including major airports like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, said, “ This is a good move to standardize services across. The CAR requires alignment of documentation, operational SOPs, training, equipment and manpower for safe operations and to reduce incidents. However, the requirements mentioned in the CAR can be fulfilled by organized ground handlers. The smaller ones may face difficulties in complying with some of the requirements. May be the timeline for implementation can be increased a bit.”

"The comprehensive approach taken by the DGCA addresses several critical aspects of ground operations... While implementation may present initial challenges, these measures are indispensable for maintaining India's aviation growth trajectory while prioritising safety. They will not only enhance operational efficiency but also bolster India's reputation in the global aviation community, which is crucial as the country continues to expand its role in international air travel," AI SATS CEO Sanjay Gupta said.

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