Component failures in aircrafts do not imply compromising passenger safety: DGCA chief

Multiple incidents were reported this year when aircraft either turned back to their originating station or continued landing to the destination with degraded safety margins.

ANIUpdated: Thursday, July 28, 2022, 02:54 PM IST
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Director General of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Arun Kumar | Photo: ANI

Aircraft systems are reasonably robust and do have multiple redundancies but component failures do not imply that it is compromising the safety of the passengers, civil aviation regulator Director General of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Arun Kumar said on the repeated technical snags that occurred in domestic airlines.

"We are extremely proud of our pilots, who navigate occasional glitches with appropriate competence," he said while speaking to ANI.

Multiple incidents were reported this year when aircraft either turned back to their originating station or continued landing to the destination with degraded safety margins.

On being asked what was the major reason for such back-to-back technical snags and has that forced the regulator to rethink how much has it compromised passengers' safety, he said that expectation of no component failures despite the requisite maintenance works is "unscientific and naive".

An aircraft is a complex machine and has thousands of components and it may continue to be used for air operation subject to compliance of airworthiness requirements, he said.

"Yes, we had diversions, air turnbacks, rejected/abandoned take-off, precautionary/priority/emergency landings, missed approaches, cancellation due to technical snags, return to the bay after pushback, etc. but tell me, which aviation market does not have these issues," he questioned.

"Therefore, is there any justification for spreading so much panic? Let me categorically state that none of the component-related issues, which ignited debates has any bearing on safety if the pilot follows the SOP and does the non-normal checklist actions and if not mitigated, seeks a precautionary/priority/emergency landing for further rectification on the ground." Aviation is a highly process-driven sector and is the safest mode of transport globally.

"There are enough safety valves available to the pilots such as missed approach, baulked landing, rejected take off, diversion, etc. These are elements of a robust safety management system and should not be frowned upon," he said.

In 2021 and 2022, India had no fatal accidents for commercial airlines.

"We had one at Calicut in 2020. We have a very robust regulatory system, which delineates roles for all stakeholders and ensures compliance. We are extremely proud of our pilots, who navigate occasional glitches with appropriate competence. Recent trends suggest an increase in missed approaches/go around and from a safety point of view, we hail that," he said.

Replying to a question on the latest tough action on SpiceJet and whether DGCA is reviewing safety measures for other airlines too, he said this is a continuous and ongoing process as a national civil aviation authority.

"We are doing everything possible to ensure that our flying remains safest and for that, we never ever shy off from biting the bullet. Strict enforcement action is taken wherever required. As public authorities, we have to follow certain processes for adherence to the principles of natural justice and we always keep that in mind," he explained.

DGCA on Wednesday ordered SpiceJet to operate a maximum of 50 per cent of its flights for eight weeks after several of its planes reported technical malfunction recently.

Further, on being asked whether airplanes remaining non-functional for a long time during Covid were the underlying reasons for these snags, he replied that it may be possible.

"Covid brought disruptions, Lockdown curtailed operations, and settled systems were thrown off balance. Hopefully, we should be able to see off this phase soon." When he was asked regarding passengers often complaining of airlines charging them for the selection of seats and is the DGCA as the regulator mulling any action regarding this, he said that the DGCA has no role to play.

On recovery of the domestic aviation sector post-Covid, he said that about 75 to 80 per cent of recovery had already taken place in domestic traffic. While the international traffic recovery is slower because of "various reasons".

Lastly, regarding the Regulation and functioning of pilot training schools after recent incidents of crash landings, he said that in recent weeks, the regulator has carried out surveillance and audit of all the 34 Flying Training Schools and has taken strict enforcement action against those found responsible/negligent.

"We are keeping a close watch on them. However, occasionally an event may happen as young pilots are learning and may make mistakes- which needs to be addressed suitably."

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