As the domestic aviation industry struggles to come out of losses incurred due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the issue of repeated technical snags and mid-air incidents has been a cause of concern for the government. A total of 478 technical snags were reported in the last one year from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022, with Air India topping the chart with 184 such incidents, says the minister of state in the civil aviation ministry Gen. V. K. Singh (retd). The minister, replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha, says that IndiGo and SpiceJet reported 98 and 77 incidents of technical snags during the period, respectively.
Go Air, Vistara, Air India Express, Alliance Air and Air Asia reported 50, 40, 10, 05, and 14 incidents of technical snags, respectively, adds the minister. Besides, a total of 8 accidents involving Air India Express (2), SpiceJet (2), IndiGo (1) and Vistara (1), have also been reported from 2019 to July 22, 2022.
On the action taken by the aviation regulator against violations by the airlines, the minister says based on the violations found during surveillance, spot checks, and night inspections carried out during 2021-22, the enforcement action was taken by DGCA against responsible personnel or post holder of the airline operator in 21 instances of violations.
The regulator also suspended licenses, withdrew post holders, and officials involved in the maintenance of aircraft, and issued warning letters.
The minister says a show-cause notice was issued to Spicejet Ltd. recently, based on the findings of spot checks, inspections and the airline's reply. To ensure safe and reliable air transport service, the DGCA had restricted its number of departures to 50% of the total approved departures under Summer Schedule 2022 for 8 weeks from July 27, 2022.
The airline received a lot of attention due to repeated malfunctions reported in recent days. Among the incidents that were reported, a SpiceJet Boeing 737 aircraft carrying passengers from Delhi to Dubai had to be landed in Karachi, Pakistan, after developing a technical malfunction in July.
SpiceJet's Delhi-Jabalpur flight had to be returned as crew members observed smoke in the cabin mid-air due to oil leakage in one of its engines. Notably, similar incidents have been reported with other airlines like Air India, Go First, IndiGo, and Air India Express.
Besides, 10 “air safety issues” have occurred in the past three years i.e. from the year 2020 to 2022 (till July 25, 2022), he says. However, to ensure the safety of the passengers, a total of 177 surveillance, 497 spot checks and 169 night surveillance have been carried out by the DGCA on engineering and maintenance aspects of airlines in the past year, he says. Based on the findings, the regulator also took actions against responsible personnel/post holders in 21 instances, he adds.
On the issue of increasing instances of technical snags and other malfunctions, the government, he says, has recently held meetings and sensitised the airlines to give utmost importance to the safety of operations.
They have been asked to increase engineering-related capabilities at all base stations and transit stations. The regulator has also ordered special audits and spot checks.