In a recent development, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has suspended Mr. Rajeev Gupta, the Chief of Flight Safety at Air India, for a month following an investigation that revealed several lapses within the airline’s safety protocols. The DGCA conducted a surveillance operation in July, which uncovered deficiencies in accident prevention measures, inadequate technical manpower, and perfunctory internal audits within Air India.
Safety Lapses Uncovered
During the surveillance operation carried out on July 25 and 26, it became evident that Air India was expected to conduct internal safety checks in 13 crucial areas, including cargo, ramp, and cabin surveillance. Shockingly, it was discovered that the airline had allegedly fabricated reports in all 13 cases. This revelation raised serious concerns about the airline’s commitment to safety and adherence to regulatory requirements.
Suspension of Air India’s ATO License
Adding to Air India’s troubles, in August, the DGCA suspended Air India’s approved training organisation (ATO) license, impacting the operation of both its simulators, one in Mumbai and another in Hyderabad. The suspension was imposed due to lapses identified during a spot check conducted by the regulator. This decision, in turn, affected the certification and license renewal processes for Air India’s pilots, causing significant disruptions in their training schedules and operational readiness.
DGCA’s Conditional Reactivation of ATO License
On September 7, the DGCA conditionally reactivated Air India’s ATO license for 30 days after the airline addressed the identified deficiencies during the spot check. As part of the conditions, the airline was instructed to conduct an internal audit of its simulators within this 30-day period and submit a comprehensive report. This step was crucial in ensuring the airline’s compliance with safety standards and the restoration of the pilots’ certification and licensing procedures.
The Impact on Pilots
Pilots are required to undergo mandatory license renewals every six months using simulators. Additionally, they must complete annual certification courses, which include instrument rating, ground training refresher, and aviation security, all of which rely on simulator training. Failure to meet these requirements could prevent pilots from operating commercial flights, highlighting the critical importance of maintaining a functional and compliant simulator program.
Air India’s Fleet and Future Plans
As of August 1, 2023, Air India operated 74 Airbus planes and 53 Boeing aircraft, making it a substantial player in the aviation industry. In a strategic move, the airline had placed a substantial order for 470 planes earlier, including 250 from Airbus and 220 from Boeing. This ambitious order included wide-body aircraft such as the A350, B777, and B787, capable of covering long-distance routes, particularly between India and North America.
Tata Group’s Takeover and Financial Challenges
It is worth noting that the Tata group assumed control of Air India in the previous year. However, the airline has faced financial challenges, with its net loss increasing by 19.16% to Rs 11,387.96 crore in the 2022-23 fiscal year. Despite these challenges, Air India unveiled a new logo and livery featuring red, gold, and violet colors, symbolizing its commitment to revitalizing its image in the aviation industry.
The suspension of Air India’s Chief of Flight Safety and the earlier suspension of the ATO license by the DGCA highlight the importance of stringent safety measures in the aviation sector. These actions emphasize that safety violations will not be tolerated, and airlines must adhere to rigorous safety protocols to ensure the well-being of passengers and the continued success of the industry. Air India’s commitment to rectifying these issues and upholding safety standards will be closely monitored in the coming months as it strives to regain its reputation in the aviation world.
Why was Air India’s Chief of Flight Safety suspended?
Air India’s Chief of Flight Safety, Rajeev Gupta, was suspended by the DGCA due to multiple safety violations, including deficiencies in accident prevention measures and perfunctory internal audits within the airline.
How did the suspension of Air India’s ATO license impact pilots?
The suspension of Air India’s ATO license disrupted the certification and license renewal processes for its pilots, potentially preventing them from operating commercial flights.
What is the significance of the conditional reactivation of Air India’s ATO license?
The DGCA’s conditional reactivation of Air India’s ATO license signifies a chance for the airline to rectify identified deficiencies, ensuring compliance with safety standards and the resumption of pilot training.
What are the future plans and challenges for Air India?
Air India aims to expand its fleet with a substantial order of aircraft and revitalized branding. However, the airline faces financial challenges, as evidenced by a significant increase in net losses in the previous fiscal year.