Aviation security watchdog BCAS has suspended the licence of budget carrier IndiGo’s aviation security training centre for lapses in its examination system as the same set of question papers were repeated for many months.
Warning that the licence could be suspended indefinitely unless there is complete compliance, BCAS chief Kumar Rajesh Chandra said there was “complete breach of trust” and that the airline moved from computer-based system to pen and paper mode for the examinations. The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security’s (BCAS) order, issued last week, bars the Gurgaon-based airline from conducting security training programme for its employees any further.
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The training centre is run by IndiGo’s parent company InterGlobe Aviation. BCAS has also issued a show cause notice to the centre seeking an explanation. “There was a complete breach of trust. What they did was without informing the BCAS, from April-May 2016 onwards, they (the training centre) changed from computer-based to pen and paper examination,” Chandra told PTI.
After looking at the examination results, BCAS found that for as many as eight batches, all the candidates got over 95 per cent marks, he said. Each batch has around 35-40 people.
As this aroused suspicion, Chandra said, an inspection was conducted and it was found that the centre was “repeating the same set of question papers and so there was a leak of questions”. “So, naturally, there was no training. This is what they were doing. That is why their licence has been suspended,” he said.
Sources said the lapses at the centre was a serious issue. When contacted, an IndiGo spokesperson said, “we are already in contact with the BCAS and are confident of demonstrating sufficient compliance to the satisfaction of the BCAS”. Following the suspension of licence, IndiGo would have to outsource the training programme, which would result in additional cost for the carrier, sources said.
“Any lapse on the security front can have major ramifications for the country’s aviation sector. At sensitive airports like Srinagar, a secondary ladder point check of passengers is carried by airline security staff,” they said.
“This major responsibility is entrusted on the airline security staff on the premise and assurance that they would execute this duty in a responsible manner,” sources added. They also noted that if security training is being compromised, it raises serious questions. “We have issued show cause notice to them, if they get back to computer-based system, fine otherwise, it (suspension) will go on indefinitely,” Chandra said.
The suspension of training centre licence also comes at a time when IndiGo is already facing frequent glitches in its aircraft, resulting in delay in its flights and inconvenience to the passengers. Regulations make it mandatory for all scheduled airlines to impart aviation security training to its security staff, cockpit and cabin crew either through their own BCAS-approved facility or any other similar authorised centre.
Besides, BCAS conducts such training programmes for airlines and other stakeholders at all its regional offices. While cockpit and cabin crew are imparted a one week training in various aspects of airline and airport security, for those deployed in other jobs it runs for more than a week.
Meanwhile stating that the current discussion with BCAS only pertains to the aviation security training, IndiGo spokesperson also said all other trainings are continuing, as scheduled, and there has been no change in the airline’s operations.