Fliers, airline staff can report safety lapses to DGCA anonymously

Updated on Jul 28, 2015 11:30 PM IST
After several instances where airlines failed to report safety lapses during flights, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has asked fliers and airlines staff to report the problem.
Hindustan Times | By, Mumbai

Had a bad experience with an airline? You can now register anonymous complaints with the country’s aviation safety regulator.

After several instances where airlines failed to report safety lapses during flights, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has asked fliers and airlines staff to report the problem. A circular issued on Tuesday announced the names of two officials, who can be tipped off about the violations and gave their official phone numbers and email addresses. The officials are joint director general (air safety) Lalit Gupta (lalit.dgca@nic.in) and director air safety Maneesh Kumar (maneesh.dgca@nic.in).

Safety lapses could comprise a host of incidents such as unsafe landings, mid-air engineering snags and procedural lapses by the flight crew.

The circular asks fliers and airline staffers to fearlessly report safety lapses to the new team. The identity of the complainants will be kept a secret, officials said. “Although a voluntary reporting system is already in place, the number of reported cases caused by human error is less. The problem is common worldwide,” said a senior DGCA official, on the condition of anonymity.

“We understand airline staff often conceal information fearing punitive action from their employers. The DGCA team will ensure the confidentiality of those who report safety lapses is maintained,” said another senior DGCA official.

Attempts to cover-up near mishaps and even serious air incidents that put fliers’ lives at risk are common, said DGCA sources. On April 12, 2013, an Air India flight landed at Mumbai without permission from the air traffic control (ATC) tower when the runway was closed for inspection. But since the incident was not reported on time, the data from the flight’s cockpit voice recorder -- a crucial investigation tool -- was not retrieved.

Similarly on March 9, 2013, a city-bound Indigo Airlines flight veered to the left of the runway after touchdown and broke five runway edge lights. Instead of reporting the incident, an aircraft maintenance engineer replaced the aircraft tyres to hide it, a DGCA probe into the matter showed later.

Last month, five members of an Air India cabin crew were injured onboard a turbulence-hit Mumbai-bound flight from Riyadh last month, but the airline failed to report the matter to the aviation safety regulator. The incident came to light only after it was reported in the media and the regulator asked the airline to submit a report.


    Soubhik Mitra is an assistant editor with the Hindustan Times. The Mumbai boy has spent over a decade reporting on civic, environmental and political issues. His current stint is the longest where he writes on aviation and travel.

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