For the seventh time in the last one month, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) grounded two aircraft - one each of of Bajaj Auto Limited's aviation arm and of Bangalore-based real estate firm Sobha Puravankara for gross safety violations which included illicit carriage of liquor on-board domestic flights.
Sources in the DGCA informed while the G200 Gulfstream aircraft (VT-SNP) registered with Sobha Puravankara had on-board a full-fledged bar, an unsealed bottle of liquor was found in the Bombardier Global 5,000 Bajaj Auto aircraft (VT-BAJ).
The violations were found in a random inspection carried out by the regulator at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport on Saturday. As source in the know said, "The aircraft registered with Sobha Puravankara had on-board a full-fledged bar. This has raised serious security concerns.
How did they manage to get so much of liquor despite checks at the airport."
The aviation regulator has referred the case to the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) to investigate how the liquor was taken on board the domestic flight when the CISF has to carry out all such checks.
Both the aircraft have been grounded for violating Aeronautical Information Circular (AIC) 12/1994 which bans serving liquor on board domestic flights and the Delhi Liquor License Rules of 1974, which prohibits any individual travelling from another state to Delhi from carrying more than an unsealed liquor bottle of 750 ml.
While Sobha Puravankara is yet to explain to the safety lapses found by the DGCA, Bajaj Auto has told the regulator that the bottle of liquor was from a Dubai-Chennai flight on 2 August 2013 which had 12 passengers on-board including actor Shahrukh Khan.
"DGCA is in the process of verifying the details as the specified flight had taken place in August last year.
Over the last nine months, the operator is claiming that it has had the liquor bottle on-board",the source said. Apart from the violations related to the carriage of liquor, the team of DGCA officials also found significant technical lapses as both aircraft were not carrying the mandatory operations manuals as well as Jeppesen manual or the comprehensive flight (route) guide.
Two lady facilitators and another female attendant was found on-board the Shoba Puravankara and Bajaj Auto aircraft respectively, who did not have the training required to be undertaken by cabin crew.
Earlier this month, DGCA had grounded 11 pilots and six cabin crew of GMR Aviation for three months for not clearing the mandatory pre-flight breath analyser tests.
The most recent violation on part of GMR Aviation was found on April 14, when Rahul Gandhi flew from Delhi to Bhubaneshwar in GMR's luxury Falcon 2000-Lx.
Besides, the safety regulator has grounded business jets registered with Deputy Punjab Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal-promoted Orbit Aviation, with Union Minister for Urban Development Kamal Nath's Span Air, Business Jets India Limited and Reliance Commercial Dealers Limited for flouting specified safety guidelines re-issued for non-scheduled operators in March.
In order to ensure safe operations during the election season, the DGCA had on March 24 also issued stringent safety guidelines and threatened to cancel air operators' permit of business jets and helicopters that failed to conform with prescribed norms. The guidelines were reissued after the aviation regulator found discrepancy in operations by some non-scheduled operators.
Taking a grim view of the frequent lapses on part of NSOPs, the DGCA has decided to step up surveillance carry out safety inspections on 44 major NSOPs who fly abroad and two aircraft each of all scheduled domestic airlines by June-end.