‘Safety Vi­o­la­tions Soar in In­dian Skies’ Govt Ig­nored Min View on Pawan Hans Stake Sale

Di­rec­torate Gen­eral of Civil Avi­a­tion says vi­o­la­tions had risen by more than half last year over 2015

The Economic Times - - Companies: Pursuit Of Profit - Our Bureau Mi­hir.Mishra@ times­group.com

New Delhi: Safety vi­o­la­tions in the In­dian skies have risen by more than half last year over 2015, Di­rec­torate Gen­eral of Civil Avi­a­tion (DGCA) data re­vealed.

The data from In­dia’s civil avi­a­tion regulator showed that it had taken 275 en­force­ment ac­tions in 2015, which jumped to 422 in 2016. What’s more, the rise in vi­o­la­tions are also be­ing re­ported at a time when In­dia has be­come the high­est grow­ing mar­ket in the world by reg­is­ter­ing an over 20% pas­sen­ger as well as ca­pac­ity growth over the past cou­ple of years.

Data also shows that en­force­ment ac­tions dur­ing 2014 was about 391, when the size of the mar­ket was smaller com­pared to to­day.

DGCA of­fi­cials credit the in­crease in en­force­ment ac­tions to height­ened sur­veil­lance by the avia- tion regulator. “The in­crease is on ac­count of height­ened sur­veil­lance and risk-based au­dit be­ing con­ducted by the DGCA,” said a se­nior of­fi­cial at the DGCA, who did not want to be iden­ti­fied.

The of­fi­cial fur­ther ex­plained that risk-based au­dits have helped them crack down on dis­crep­anci- es. “Un­der the risk-based au­dit, we in­quire into the whole train­ing process of an air­line. This has helped us de­tect and im­prove a lot of flaws,” the of­fi­cial ex­plained.

In­dus­try in­sid­ers, how­ever, are scep­ti­cal about the in­creased sur­veil­lance claim by DGCA. “In­dian avi­a­tion has grown but the num- ber of flight op­er­a­tions in­spec­tors in the DGCA has re­duced. So, the DGCA’s claim that they have in­creased au­dits with lower staff in an in­dus­try that has grown in num­ber can­not be be­lieved,” said Mohan Ran­ganathan, a safety ex­pert and a for­mer pi­lot.

Within the in­dus­try, peo­ple tried to put th­ese num­bers in con­text. “Th­ese num­bers shared by DGCA can­not be looked at in­de­pen­dently, as the avi­a­tion regulator could be try­ing to in­flu­ence pub­lic view due to rea­sons best known to them,” said Shakti Lumba, avi­a­tion an­a­lyst who was pre­vi­ously head of op­er­a­tions at IndiGo.

Among the air­lines, Jet Air­ways topped the list with 116 vi­o­la­tions dur­ing 2016, fol­lowed by 101 vi­o­la­tions by SpiceJet. Air In­dia came in third with 66 vi­o­la­tions fol­lowed by IndiGo, which saw 55 of its crew mem­bers be­ing pun­ished. New Delhi: The Narenda Modi gov­ern­ment de­cided to sell its en­tire share in Pawan Hans de­spite the avi­a­tion min­istry’s view that the tim­ing would not be right for a stake sale in the state-owned he­li­copter op­er­a­tor, three se­nior avi­a­tion min­istry of­fi­cials told ET.

This is a rare oc­ca­sion when the cen­tral gov­ern­ment has over­looked the view of the nodal min­istry on di­vest­ing stake in a PSU, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said. The gov­ern­ment, through civil avi­a­tion min­istry, owns 51% in the com­pany, while the rest is owned by ONGC. Set up in1986, Pawan Hans is the largest he­li­copter op­er­a­tor in the coun­try with a fleet of 42 chop­pers.

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