Risky flights


Grounding of several aircrafts by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) belonging to two private airlines, Go-Air and Go-Indigo, resulting in cancellation of scores of flights on various routes causing inconvenience to passengers appears to be kneejerk reaction from the regulators. It also exposes the lack of planning and regulation process by the central government in checking the airworthiness of the aircrafts. This and other steps taken by the DGCA have only gone further in securing the life and property of the passengers. In fact, ignoring the faults in the aircrafts being operated by the private airlines amounted to increased risk to the life and property of the passengers. The DGCA decision is a welcome step but it has raised more questions about the flight safety than answers on the operations of the private airlines. It is unfortunate that the DGCA has been found lacking in carrying out the regular inspections of the aircrafts being operated by the private airlines in the country since the opening of this sector to private players. Before the operations are allowed, regulations should be evolved on regular basis so that passenger safety is not compromised at any point of time. It has been the case of only two airlines in the recent past that aircrafts were grounded for the reasons of security and safety. Such cases have happened in the past also but the steps initiated by the DGCA and the concerned ministry were never made public for the reasons best known to the authorities. Since India is signatory to the international charter on air safety, caution needs to be exercised across the board not only for the domestic private players but also all the players including the foreign airlines that operate in and out of India on regular basis. The DGCA has been strict in dealing with the complaints from the passengers against the foreign and domestic airlines, similar parameters should be laid down for the private players in India. Those private players from India, which have been having operations on international routes have been subjected to safety standards of the international level that govern all the airlines outside India. The monitoring system needs to be geared up and made obligatory not only for the domestic players but also all the operators in the interest of the passengers’ safety. It needs to be borne in mind that the DGCA in cooperation with other countries took stern action against the airlines, both domestic as well as international, when some shortcomings were reported about one and a half decades back. At that point of time, one of the private players from India was also barred from operating on certain international destinations for ensuring the safety of the passengers. The recent incidents at some of the airports in India, where the aircrafts overshot the runway or had a crash landing besides faulty landing by the pilots appear to have woken up the DGCA authorities from their laid back life-style that is reminiscent of a typical government department. The DGCA needs to place its house in order before these private airlines are allowed to resume operations after rectification of engine defects in their aircrafts. Apart from this, the regulators should also focus on the increased pricing of the airline tickets by the private operators or in the event of road closures and save the passengers being fleeced in the process. The civil aviation ministry had directed a meeting in this connection but the decisions to put a cap on maximum fares on some of the routes are yet to be implemented. The passengers have been complaining of high and inflated prices of tickets when some of the cancellations are made due to several reasons but the authorities are yet to initiate action on the ground. Fixation of ticket prices for some of the distances like up to 500 kilometres and beyond and then another bracket of 1000 kilometres and beyond have been proposed but not made mandatory for the private as well as the state owned Air India. The authorities should act fast in this connection in the interest of the passengers.