DGCA to carry out surprise safety checks on foreign planes

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 11 2014, 08:54am hrs
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 on Monday. 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 Afgh-anistan's Ariana, have been penalised, the sources said.

The surprise checks are being carried out on the basis of Safety Oversight of Foreign Airlines 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 planes like airborne collision avoidance system. The status of documents like the air operating certificate 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 time frame. 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 US 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 seek to conduct their own safety assessment of the DGCA like the FAA. Singapore has warned it will put Indian aircraft under stricter ramp checks.