New Delhi (Sputnik): Toughening its stand after a rise in the number of airline incidents and safety violations, as many as 20 pilots working for Indian carriers have been suspended in the last two weeks. An official told Sputnik that six of the pilots flew for SpiceJet, one of the country’s fastest-growing carriers.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), India’s civil aviation regulator, has recorded the highest number of pilot suspensions in a month, as the enforcement of regulations tightens.
“Twenty pilots have been suspended, pending a detailed investigation. Prima facie, these pilots were found be to disobeying civil aviation requirements,” Indian news agency PTI quoted a DGCA official as saying.
Indigo, India’s largest air carrier by market share, also came under the scrutiny of the DGCA last week. On 11 July, four senior executives of the airline were issued show-cause notices for safety norm violations, and sources say the carrier will soon, likely take action against at least two of them.
“There is lack of implementation of safety management systems in the organisation,” a show-cause notice served to SpiceJet on 4 July read. The company has taken action against three of its officials including its chief of flight safety.
“Air safety cannot be compromised at any cost. We are monitoring every action, and ensuring that corrective action based on the notices being issued has to be taken without any delay,” the official added.
SpiceJet has reported back-to-back serious incidents on wet runways between 30 June and 3 July. On 30 June, a Spicejet Bombardier Q400 overshot the runway in Surat, with a similar incident reported in Mumbai. On 2 July, a Boeing 737 veered off the runway in Kolkata.
IndiGo has experienced similar events, including mid-air scares occurring in Jaipur and Goa over the past 15 days.
The number of accidents and incidents has surged in the past four years, with the highest ever figures and 339 carrier safety violations in 2016 alone. Failure by carriers to provide adequate resources to maintain safe operations can be blamed for the spike in these trends. Indian carriers reported over $1 billion in operating losses in the last financial year, the highest in a decade. High fuel costs, the global economic slowdown, and low yields due to intense competition are some factors that have contributed to the widening gap between revenue and expenses in the airline industry in the airline industry.
Jet Airways, India’s largest private carrier, reported aggregate losses in the last few quarters, eroded its liquidity and jeopardised its ability to sustain operations. The airline faced significant debt for the lease of aircraft, pilot salaries, oil companies and suppliers and was finally forced to stop operations in April of this year.