Delhi Court asks questions of its DGCA; FAA ?

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Delhi High Court asks for latest position on air safety from DGCA

Same questions which FAA conditional Category I status grant

 

“NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has sought from the civil aviation regulator, DGCA, the latest position regarding air safety,
probe into aircraft accidents and recruitment of flight operations inspectors
.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar asked for the information after the Directorate General
of Civil Aviation (DGCA) claimed that it has been following all precautions to ensure flight safety in the country.

With the direction, the court listed the matter for further hearing on August 2.

The court was hearing a PIL alleging that private airlines are violating and circumventing mandatory provisions for air safety
and airworthiness issued by the DGCA.

The plea has also claimed that the regulator has no mechanism to effectively check the non-compliance and blatant violation of
the provisions.

Refuting the allegations made in the public interest litigation, the DGCA said that it has safety oversight and surveillance
programmes for airworthiness management and aircraft maintenance.

It told the court that all of the civil aviation planes in operation in the country are following the aircraft maintenance
programme.
The regulator also claimed that there are no shortage of flight operation inspectors.

However, the petitioner, Alok Kumar, has claimed that there are 72 vacant posts of flight operation inspectors in the DGCA.”

The Delhi High Court has extraordinary powers, including the competence to initiate inquiries such as this matter. While such an action may be well beyond the authority of any US court, the questions appear to be topics which the FAA should be posing:

That’s a long history of PENDING questions about the DGCA’s ability to meet its safety mission. The fact that the Delhi High Court has issued interrogatories about the very same questions SHOULD CAUSE THE FAA to act?

 

Here’s a review of this labored history–

 

With great fanfare, Secretary Foxx announced that the DGCA of India had been upgraded to Category 1 (meets ICAO standards) after a long FAA International Aviation Safety Assessment review. Soon thereafter, it has been reported that the FAA’s “approval” was conditioned by four points with which the DGCA must comply (see below) sometime in the undefined future.

Why did the FAA take this extraordinary (unique?) step to increase the rating now, but pose the “threat” of a later reverter to Category 2 if the foreign government does not presently meet four found deficiencies?

India is the second most populous country in the world (1.2 billion) and it is seventh-largest by nominal GDP and third-largest by purchasing power parity. Its economy is growing dynamically. The President of the United States  visited this country for its national holiday. The President of Airbus also made a visit and announced to India’s Prime Minister Modi that the multi-national manufacturer would devote $2 billion to his “Make in India” program.

What are the four conditions? As reported, they are:

“the local aviation regulator would have to hire a total of 72 flight operations inspectors (FOIs),”

recertify “all scheduled airlines,”

“recertify all non-scheduled operators (NSOPs) and”

“recertify all flying training organisations to retain the top ranking.”

Those are not inconsequential regulatory actions and before they are completed, these signify that the FAA has concerns about the competence of all of those airlines and organizations. The lack of adequate staffing certainly strongly suggests that the past safety inspections have not been adequate; the DGCA Directorate listing shows about 50 individuals with the title Senior Flight Operation Inspectors or Flight Operation Inspectors. The requirement that the FOI roster should be increased by 125% is not a vote of confidence.

Seven countries are listed as Category 2 under IASA. Their airlines and economies suffer by that designation. However, one of the purposes of IASA is to protect US and international passengers from substandard safety standards. The announcement that India’s DGCA meets that standard becomes somewhat questionable by the establishment of four important steps with which the DGCA must comply. Should a passenger be 1000% confidant when flying on one of the carriers which have yet to be recertified?

One cannot fault the FAA for not having the local knowledge which is readily available to the Delhi High Court. International Travel budget is limited—that’s understood! However, with this story being published, it seems prudent for the FAA to take some action. American travelers rely upon India’s Category I status as granted by the FAA.



 

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