Passengers and even on-lookers can now blow the whistle on aviation-related incidents to the regulator, something of which the full onus was with airlines and other organisations.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has introduced a voluntary reporting system, in addition to the mandatory reporting system, to plug the loopholes presented by the latter.
“Though mandatory reporting system is working satisfactorily, yet in spite of safeguards incorporated in the system and considerable efforts made to ensure that it is not used to attribute blame, still the proportion of true human factor occurrences which are being reported still remains small. This is a common drawback with all mandatory reporting systems as experienced worldwide,” the DGCA said in an aeronautical information circular.
“Failure to report such occurrence is usually attributed to reluctance in admitting personal errors to an employer or to the Regulatory Authority. In order to encourage the reporting of such occurrences, a voluntary reporting system was introduced by all airlines/organizations. However, to make system more effective and encourage all personnel engaged in aviation related activities for reporting of such incidents, a voluntary reporting system in DGCA has been introduced,” the circular added.
The aviation safety regulator said that the system can be used by anyone who witnesses, or is involved, or has knowledge of an occurrence, hazard or situation, which he or she believes possess potential threat to flight safety. It added that the reporter’s identity will be kept confidential.
As per the norms by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the global aviation watchdog, individuals and organisations are required to notify incidents within an established time-frame to the regulator. While ICAO has not defined any time-frame, various regulatory authorities have the period ranging between 24 and 72 hours.
Countries that are members of the ICAO are also required to have a voluntary incident reporting system in order to “facilitate the collection of safety information that may not otherwise be captured by the established mandatory incident reporting system; and enable the identification of hazards and unsafe conditions that have not yet caused an incident”.
A recent investigation report by the regulator into a 2016 incident has showed that a passenger had alerted the crew of an IndiGo A320 aircraft on a taxiway at Mumbai airport, when its wingtip hit another aircraft and sheared off. The pilots on the flight, even though felt the aircraft shake, continued to taxi.