DGCA issues safety standards for ground handling service providers

The DGCA has published a new set of rules, also known as Civil Aviation Requirement, prescribing the framework for safe operations by service providers

Updated - July 10, 2024 09:10 pm IST

Published - July 10, 2024 03:39 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has issued safety standards for ground handling service providers . Photo: dgca.gov.in

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has issued safety standards for ground handling service providers . Photo: dgca.gov.in

Ground handling service providers at airports that perform activities such as boarding passengers, loading cargo, marshalling aircraft on the apron, and check-in services will now be required to obtain a safety clearance from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), according to the new regulations framed by it.

The DGCA has published a new set of rules, also known as Civil Aviation Requirement, prescribing the framework for safe operations by service providers after a consultation process with various stakeholders. Service providers will now have to obtain a safety clearance from DGCA within six months.

“The robust safety mechanism to be implemented prospectively by the GHSPs (ground handling service providers) would help in prevention and mitigation of ground incidents at the airport thereby enhancing the quality of services rendered in safety sensitive functions,” the DGCA said in a press statement.

The regulator now requires service providers to prepare a manual laying down various procedures to be followed for carrying out ground activities, including those in relation to movements of their vehicles, equipment and personnel and performing these operations in low visibility conditions such as at night and adverse weather.

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Ground handling agencies will also have to develop, implement and maintain a training programme for its personnel and ensure they complete initial and on-the-job training following which they must each be issued a Certificate of Competency. Recurrent training will also have to be conducted within a period of three years. These agencies will have to also maintain training records and make them available for review by DGCA.

The regulator also wants ground handling agencies to record incidents and accidents and report them to the DGCA within 24 hours of their occurrence. It has also defined key appointments that a service provider should make, including those of a Station Manager and a Safety Manager.

Urging for some relaxation in the timeline for implementation, Celebi Aviation’s India CEO, Murali Ramachandran welcomed the move.

“This is a good move to standardise services across the country. The CAR requires alignment of documentation, operational SOPs, and lays down requirement for training, equipment and manpower for safe operations and to reduce incidents. Though the requirements mentioned in the CAR can be fulfilled by organised ground handlers, smaller service providers may face difficulties in complying with some of the requirements,” Mr. Ramachandran said.

Ground handling safety events can cause injuries and deaths and result in operational delays as well as damage to aircraft and equipment. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents over 300 airlines globally, as many as 40% of ground damage incidents involve cargo loaders, passenger stairs and passenger boarding bridges.

IATA also says that most aircraft ground damage that occurs once the aircraft is stationary is caused by motorised ground service equipment such as those used for towing airplanes, re-fuelling, loading luggage/freight, transporting passengers, removing sewage, loading food, among others. The IATA estimates that the annual cost of ground damage could double to nearly $10 billion by 2035 unless preventive action is taken.

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