Is govt giving the cold shoulder to aviation accident bureau?
A downgrade could hit Indian airlines hard, preventing them from launching more flights to some countries, including the US.india Updated: Nov 14, 2017 18:14 IST
The ministry of civil aviation could be undermining the independence of its accident investigation unit, in a move that could impair the country’s ranking in air safety audits.
A downgrade could hit Indian airlines hard, preventing them from launching more flights to some countries, including the US.
The ministry recently constituted a committee headed by a senior official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the aviation regulator, to examine the functioning of the aircraft accident investigation bureau (AAIB), a move that threatens to undermine the independence of the investigative body.
According to the ministry’s own rules, AAIB has primacy over DGCA in matters related to the investigation of accidents.
The DGCA’s committee, headed by Lalit Gupta, joint director general of the regulator, asked AAIB to provide details of the process of classification of air mishaps as accidents, incidents and serious incidents over the past two years. While AAIB has provided the details — 20 serious incidents and 11 accidents — there is resentment in the bureau over what is being seen as interference by the regulator. The motive for the creation of the committee isn’t clear.
“There is no comment on the issue at my level,” said Usha Padhi, ministry spokesperson.
People familiar with the matter said there is a feeling within the ministry that the bureau is less equipped and understaffed to conduct accident investigations and that the DGCA should assist it until it acquires the requisite manpower and expertise.
AAIB was formed in 2012 after the International Civil Aviation Organisation raised concerns about how air accidents were investigated in India. On August 6 this year, the MoCA gave further teeth to the AAIB by making its classification of accidents binding on DGCA.