With the Mangalore aircrash in mind, the government is preparing detailed rules and guidelines to ensure that loss-making airlines do not cut costs on safety front while trying to reduce their financial burden, official sources said.
If an airline does not meet these rules and procedures, after they come into effect, its Air Operator’s Permit (license to run air operations) as also future expansion of fleet and operations, could be affected, the sources warned.
With mounting losses, many Indian carriers have started reducing flights, laying off employees and rationalising their route structure. There have also been cases where leased aircraft of certain private carriers have been taken over by lessors or airlines denied any credit on lifting of jet fuel from oil marketing firms.
Noting that some airlines have been in distress over financial or operational issues, the government is trying to “ensure that safety oversight functions are not affected“.
They said the “unfavourable trends” being witnessed in some of the airline operators’ financial conditions could be identified by factors like lay-offs, delays in paying salaries, reduction of safe operating standards, inadequate maintenance of aircraft, shortage of supplies and spares or sale of aircraft or other major equipment.
Keeping in mind this problem, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has prepared draft rules which would be applicable to all scheduled airlines and those non-scheduled airlines having a fleet of over five planes.
It was also decided that an airline operator should have 25-30 per cent of its total number of flight crew, meant for a particular type of aircraft, as training captains.
Half of these training captains should be check pilots and the rest instructors or examiners. This, the sources said, was meant to ensure that there were senior cockpit crew who can fly each aircraft available in the fleet of an airline.
Under the proposed rules and guidelines, all airlines would have to carry out assessment within their own organisations every 12 months on the basis of check-lists prepared by the DGCA and submit reports to the regulatory body on a regular and timely basis, the sources said.
The DGCA would then carry out detailed evaluation of these reports of the airlines and undertake its own assessment of the issues, they said.
Further expansion of fleet and operations of these airlines, including their Air Operator’s Permit, would be subject to “mitigation of the potential risk factors identified during the financial surveillance” and to the satisfaction of the DGCA, the sources added.