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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Domestic airports don't meet the minimum safety standards

Aviation on a Slippery Slope!


SAYAN GHOSH | Issue Dated: July 21, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : CASAC | Indian aviation sector | Indian airports | Monsoon |

“It is strange how flight operation inspectors failed to include this point in the monsoon preparatory training for pilots,” was the pointed criticism raised by a puzzled Mohan Ranganathan, member of the Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council (CASAC), formed to overlook the safety preparedness of Indian airports. CASAC was formed in the aftermath of the deadly Mangalore bound Air India crash in 2010. However, old ways die hard; and the hazard of under-preparedness of Indian airports to air disasters, particularly during monsoon, is as potent today as it was before the formation of CASAC.

According to the CASAC, which is an independent air safety regulating body, as many as four airports in India are vulnerable to air disasters during monsoon. The Union Government has been intimated by the CASAC that flight functions at Patna, Goa, Jammu and Dibrugarh (Assam) bear risk of accidents as these airports don’t meet the minimum specifications followed worldwide on air safety standards. If the allegations are true then it carries with it the question of accountability of aviation safety regulators and how the lag escaped their eyes!
The shocking revelation bares the inspection gaps in India’s aviation industry and the utter neglect of airports’ disaster management in a critical transportation sector where the chances of survival in the case of an accident is minimal. The fateful night of May 22, 2010, when the Air India Flight 812 overshot the runway in Mangalore killing all but eight passengers on board is still fresh in the annals of disaster books. It’s a glaring case that exposes the deficiency in airport infrastructure – a bleak picture shared by a number domestic airports in India. If we look a little further back, the Chakri Dadri (near Delhi) air crash that killed 349 people in 1996 was the deadliest head-on-mid air collision in the country’s history. Then, in 1991, the Indian Airlines crash of the Kolkata-Imphal flight, which killed 69 passengers, was another gruesome reflection of our shoddy aviation infrastructure to combat air disaster.

Our callousness in installing a preemptive disaster management structure in every sphere is replicated in the transportation sector as well. A rash of mishaps involving the railways and road vehicles have gone on unabated for a long time with nary an eyebrow being raised by the authorities who have largely been mere spectators to the loss of lives. This callous disregard for ensuring safety measures has now infected the aviation sector, which carries with it the danger of yet another disaster anytime soon. The underlying risks can inflict serious damage to the aviation industry and stymie its growth prospects! 

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017