The Business Aircraft Operators Association has written letters of protest to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and the ministry of civil aviation at the publicising of reports on inspection of planes operated by general aviation operators.
In a letter to Ashok Lavasa, the ministry’s secretary, dated Friday, BAOA has said, “. . .undue and subjective publicity is being given to the inspection reports of DGCA, involving aircraft of non-scheduled operators and private operators. . . totally uncalled for, especially since these inspections are a matter of routine.”
It had written earlier this week in a similar vein.
BAOA says the recent downgrade of India by the America’s Federal Aviation Authority was triggered primarily by a shortage of qualified staff for conducting safety and airworthiness inspections of aircraft, not due to deficiencies on the part of non-scheduled operators.
R Bali, secretary of BAOA, said: “Reports in the media initiated by DGCA are a clear attempt to detract attention from the essence of this issue and shift blame of the FAA downgrade to the private aircraft operator.”
“The aim of the regulator in scaling up safety checks is to ensure compliance.
"It is important to step up surveillance through random inspections so that operators do not get complacent about safety.
"We do not have any control over what the press reports on the deficiencies we find,” said an official.
On March 24, DGCA had issued stringent safety guidelines and threatened to cancel the air operator permit of business jets and helicopters failing to conform to these.
The move was on the heels of India’s safety rating coming under scrutiny and being downgraded by the US Federal Aviation Administration.
The development came amid many politicians hiring smaller aircraft and helicopters for their campaigning in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.
On March 28, a Hawker 800 XP of SRC Aviation, to fly from Delhi to Colombo, was not allowed to take off for several hours as inspecting DGCA officials found several safety violations.
The regulator also held up two flights, one of Larsen & Toubro and the other of Poonawalla Aviation, citing violation of safety norms in Mumbai the same day.
Earlier, on March 22, DGCA had grounded a business jet owned by Reliance Commercial Dealers Ltd, as its safety equipment, such as fire extinguisher and personal breathing device, were beyond their expiry dates and the commander was found without his flying licence (he was suspended).
The regulator also said an aircraft registered with Jindal Steel and Power had come under scrutiny on the same day but was not grounded since there was no major violation.
Image: On March 24, DGCA had issued stringent safety guidelines and threatened to cancel the air operator permit of business jets and helicopters failing to conform to these.