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DGCA issues showcause notice to SpiceJet over frequent snags

SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh said the airline would be "doubly careful" and strengthen inspection of aircraft before they leave for flights. 

Written by Pranav Mukul | New Delhi |
Updated: July 7, 2022 1:16:50 am
The aircraft at the Karachi airport on Tuesday. (PTI)

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued Tuesday a showcause notice to SpiceJet in light of the rising number of air safety incidents witnessed by the low-cost airline. The aviation safety regulator, in its notice, mentioned that the various incidents from April 1 this year till date have been reviewed, and it was found that “poor internal safety oversight” and “inadequate maintenance actions” has resulted in degradation of safety margins.

SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh said the airline would be “doubly careful” and strengthen inspection of aircraft before they leave for flights. In a press statement, Singh said, “Lot of these incidents that are being reported are relatively minor in nature and happen to every airline. If the aviation regulator feels that there are any gaps in SpiceJet’s system, we will address them.”

On Tuesday alone, at least three incidents involving SpiceJet aircraft were reported.  First, a Boeing 737 Max aircraft flying Delhi-Dubai sector made an unplanned landing in Karachi, Pakistan, because of a malfunctioning indicator light in the cockpit. Second, a Bombardier Q400 Dash 8 plane from Kandla to Mumbai made a priority landing in Mumbai after the outer pane of one of its windshields cracked. Third, a Boeing 737 freighter aircraft that took off from Kolkata turned back due to an unserviceable weather radar.

In the showcause notice, the DGCA has also flagged the airline’s financial condition that has led to shortage of spare parts. “…financial assessment carried out by DGCA in September 2021 has also revealed that airline is operating on Cash & Carry and Suppliers/Approved Vendors are not being paid on regular basis leading to shortage of spares…,” the regulator wrote in its notice. The Indian Express has reviewed a copy of the notice.

For the nine-month period ended December 31, 2021, SpiceJet reported a consolidated net loss of Rs 1,259.21 crore, compared to Rs 1,028.19 crore of net loss for the 12-month period ended March 31, 2021. The company is yet to declare its results for quarter-ended March 31, 2022.

“From the above it may be deduced that M/s SpiceJet Ltd has failed to establish a safe, efficient and reliable air services under terms of Rule 134 and Schedule XI of the Aircraft Rules, 1937. Now, therefore, the Accountable Manager of M/s SpiceJet Ltd, is hereby called upon to show cause within three weeks of receipt of this notice as to why action should not be taken against the airline,” the DGCA wrote.

Explained

Keeping a close watch

The DGCA routinely monitors the financial health of airlines to track potential safety threats. In 2012, it conducted an audit of debt-ridden Kingfisher Airlines and found maintenance and operational deficiencies. In 2018, it monitored the health of Jet Airways every 15 days for maintenance.

The Indian Express reported Wednesday that senior SpiceJet executives, including its promoter Ajay Singh, met DGCA chief Arun Kumar. According to sources, the SpiceJet team was told not to compromise on air safety. “SpiceJet was told that they may choose to cut their costs on any avenue, but they should not compromise on any aspect involving air safety,” said a source.

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For the nine-month period ended December 31, 2021, SpiceJet reported a consolidated net loss of Rs 1,259.21 crore, compared to Rs 1,028.19 crore of net loss for the 12-month period ended March 31, 2021. The company is yet to declare its results for quarter-ended March 31, 2022.

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First published on: 06-07-2022 at 02:25:59 pm

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