Monday, July 04, 2022

Ensuring Safety in the Sky

By The Editorial Team Updated: Jun 22, 2022 11:43 pm

Air travelers have lately been going through scary experiences while flying from one city to another. Recently, three horrifying incidents in the sky with potentially catastrophic outcomes have exposed chinks in the Indian aviation sector. A Delhi-bound flight had to return to Patna after the ground staff noticed fire in one of the aircraft’s engines and a Delhi-Jabalpur flight was forced to abandon the journey when it was found that cabin pressure was dropping constantly. In another incident, a flight had to return to Guwahati after a bird hit it within hours of the first two incidents. In all three instances the situation was resolved by the pilots who showed exemplary skill and courage in landing the aircrafts safely, saving many lives. In this context, mention should be made about Captain Monica Khanna, who saved 185 lives by successfully making an emergency landing at Patna airport. The landing was exceptionally difficult as she had to switch off the affected engine and glide the aircraft down the runway. Moreover, the position of the Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan Airport in Patna had made the task even more complex as there are tall trees on one side and high-tension wires on the other. Quite strangely, the plan to relocate the airport due to the locational disadvantages has been pending for years, while new airports have come up in various parts of the country.

Clearly, it is time for the Civil Aviation ministry to attach utmost importance to the safety and security of passengers by reforming the sector. Aviation experts have pointed out major flaws like improper maintenance of aircrafts, failure to keep the airport and surrounding areas out of bounds to wild animals and high flying birds and shortage of staff as some of the main causes behind the highly dangerous situations. There were 1466 bird strikes and 29 animal intrusions that took place in the year 2021 alone, which is abnormally high in comparison to figures of previous years. Experts have also warned that for such a high risk sector even minimal compromise on safety can be fatal. Notwithstanding the warnings, it has been found that SpiceJet had trained its Boeing 737 Max aircraft pilots on a faulty stimulator. Though the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has fined the airlines and barred 90 pilots of the company from operating the aircraft, aviation experts argue that there is much more to be done. In this regard, the first and foremost step should be providing adequate qualified manpower for the maintenance of aircrafts. Often, it has been found that to maintain profitability, private airlines do not employ enough ground staff, which is a serious breach of safety protocols. Secondly, the Airports Authority of India (AAI), responsible for looking after  airports, should be extra cautious in-order to prevent incidents like bird hits and animal intrusions on the runway. Remedial action must be taken at the earliest lest air travel will no longer be safe in India.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Jun 22, 2022 11:43:30 pm