In what could further bump up India’s effective implementation score in the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) safety audit parameters, the government is planning amending the Aircraft Act to empower the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), or a committee under the regulator, so it can impose penalties on airlines and airport operators for violations of regulations and deficiency in services.
ICAO, a United Nations body, conducted a safety audit of India’s aviation sector in November 2017. The global regulator scored India’s legislative and organisational parameters at 90.4 per cent and 77 per cent, respectively. These were higher than the scores given during its 2015 audit.
“One of the concerns by ICAO is that the organisation Directorate General of Civil Aviation is not mentioned in the (Aircraft) Act, only the Director General is… another issue pertains to our penalty system, which right now is a complicated route. The government is working on making it on the lines of road transport system,” a senior government official said.
“The plan is that either the Director General or a committee is able to penalise the violators – whether individual or organisation… for example, when airline was ferrying its passengers to the aircraft, the passengers were beaten up. The inquiry clearly showed that the airline was at fault. If there was a provision for penalty, we could have immediately imposed a penalty on them. In the current scenario, the regulator can only issue a warning and ask them to avoid such instances,” the official added.
However, the official noted that the government was still in the preliminary stages of working on the amendments and said it would be premature to comment any further on the outline of the proposal pertaining to penal powers.
India’s score in the UN aviation watchdog ICAO’s air safety oversight audit is likely to improve significantly as steps have been taken to address various issues, the official said.
An ICAO team visited India last month and assessed the action taken on issues related to three areas that were audited by the watchdog in November 2015. Those pertained to Aerodromes and Ground Aids, Air Navigation Services (ANS) and Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation.
After the team’s visit in November, the preliminary indications are that India’s score should improve and is likely to rise to 74 per cent, the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) official said.
The ICAO looks at eight areas during an audit. They include Primary Aviation Legislation and Civil Aviation Regulations, Civil Aviation Organisation, Personnel Licensing and Training, Aircraft Operations and Airworthiness of Aircraft.