By Arjun Talwar
Edited by Shambhavi Singh, Senior editor, The Indian Economist
What comes as shocking news to many is actually a harsh reality. We spend majestically to avail ourselves and our families to the best and fastest mode of transportation – the Airways. But our flight may not be any less treacherous than the first plane ever flown by the Wright Brothers. Some serious violations of safety norms were observed in surprise checks carried out by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). According to reports by DGCA, it is the safety of the passengers that is at stake.
The surveillance teams carried out several surprise and routine checks on both domestic and international carriers. A plethora of serious safety violations were detected. More than 50 flagrant issues were reported which included leakage of fuel along the belly of fuselage and leakage of hydraulic fuel in the wheel area. Some cases involved missing panels of emergency doors and gallery lights not working. Some more serious faults were reported during the audit of chartered flights. Flights were being operated with expired fire fighting equipments, breathing gears and life jackets. Emergency floor lights were covered and the flights did not have safety demo kit which is mandatory according to DGCA norms. One such incident which took the media’s attention was the lapse of security check relating to Rahul Gandhi. The flight which was supposed to carry Mr. Gandhi did not clear the pre-flight medical checks, including the breathalyzer test.
These violations cannot be overlooked, especially when the whole world is realizing India as an emerging power. The straight effect of this breach in safety norms can be seen in the down gradation of our nation to Category II by the US-based Federal Aviation Authority. Several autonomous complaints are being filed every day concerning the safety of the aircrafts. The first half of the current year saw grounding of 14 aircrafts which failed the surveillance tests.
The recent case of the Mumbai-Brussels flight was a slap in the face of safety. The Jet Airways flight took a sudden descent of 5000 feet, a situation so critical that only good luck was responsible to save those lives which hung in the mid-air. An autonomous complaint revealed the whole matter, and now an inquiry has been ordered to check the issue. It has been reported as a human fault but the technical failure aspect has also not been denied.
Violation of these safety norms by the private carriers is flying in the face of the customers and regulatory authority. Such precarious attitude could be a serious threat to India’s tourism business. If proper flying safety is not ensured, India stands a risk to lose its position and repute in the international market. We are currently seen as a hot location for investment by the foreign big-bosses, but if a dynamic system to assure aviation security is not put in place, the foreign rating agencies and companies my lose faith in our system. After all airlines is the most premium means of travelling which not just carries the elite and common men but also goods which are of utmost urgency.
Ignorance of safety norms is a breach of trust of the people who spend lavishly to avail the aviation services. It is a simple case of lack of safety measures which pose a threat to many lives. Higher profits must not be earned at the cost of human lives – this is a lesson which the aviation sector companies must learn at the earliest. Accountability of the carriers must be determined, and a stringent system must be set up to ensure that safety is never compromised. It should be a collective responsibility of the airlines, DGCA and the passengers to spot, report and resolve any problem which could have a menacing impact.Arjun is currently pursuing Economics (H) from Moti Lal Nehru College, Delhi University. He has a habit to discuss politics and current affairs over the dining table (like most Indians!). He is a loquacious speaker yet an avid listener who loves to chill with friends. He is a debater at heart and desires of travelling long distances. Watching movies and cricket is what he craves for in his free time. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.