After US FAA downgrade of Indian aviation safety, DGCA to carry out surprise checks on foreign aircraft

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 11 2014, 02:24am hrs
AirlinesAfter US FAA downgrade, DGCA checklist includes not only safety aspects, but also on the equipments fitted. Reuters
Aviation regulator DGCA has set up technical teams to carry out sudden safety checks on the aircraft of foreign airlines and charter firms and penalise them if discrepancies are found, official sources said today.

Foreign aircraft flying to India could face extensive safety checks when they land here. In case of major lapses the aircraft could even be grounded and its owners penalised, the sources said.

The decision to set up the two teams in Delhi and Mumbai was taken in the backdrop of the recent downgrade of Indian aviation safety mechanism by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Over the past few months, six airlines, including Japan's All Nippon Airways, Sri Lankan Airways and Afghanistan's Ariana, have been penalised, the sources said.

The surprise safety checks are being carried out on the basis of Safety Oversight of Foreign Airlines (SOFA) programme and a checklist based on the recommendations of the UN agency International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The checklist includes not only safety aspects on the flight deck, but also on the equipments fitted or not fitted in the planes like Airborne Collision Avoidance System. The status of documents like the air operating certificate (AOC) or licenses of the cockpit or the cabin crew would also be under check, they said.

The deficiencies could be categorised into minor or major and the penalty could range from a mere warning to rectify the faults within a specific time-frame to the grounding of an aircraft or, in extreme cases, denying the airline the right to fly into India.

Once a deficiency is found in an aircraft, the concerned airline is informed of it, along with the action that was being contemplated or taken, the sources said, adding that the airlines are asked to take corrective measures within a given time frame.

The ICAO guidelines and standards have to be followed mandatorily by all airlines across the world, they said.

The FAA downgrade last month implies all Indian flights to the United States would be subject to extensive checks. Other aviation regulators like those of Europe, Singapore or Japan could follow suit and conduct additional safety checks on Indian planes, the sources said.

They said these regulators could also seek to conduct their own safety assessment of the DGCA like the FAA. Singapore has already warned that it would put Indian aircraft under stricter ramp checks.

In order to avoid any trouble at a foreign airport, the DGCA has already issued an advisory to all Indian carriers and charter operators to have all their aircraft and crew

documents in proper order. Some airlines like Air India have set up special committees to implement this advisory, the sources said.