No compromise on passenger safety, says minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on repeated snags in aircraft

Passenger safety is of paramount importance and there cannot be any compromise in that aspect, said Union Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia on the repeated technical snags that occurred in domestic airlines.

Multiple incidents have been reported this year which have forced aircraft to either turn back to their originating station or land at their destination with degraded safety margins.

“We have taken decisive actions, (regulator) DGCA has done spot checks and audits and several actions were taken,” the civil aviation minister said in a briefing.

A total of 478 technical snags were reported in the past year — July 2021 – June 2022, the minister informed Lok Sabha in a written reply on Thursday.

“These technical snags are reported by the flight crew on receiving an aural/ visual warning in the cockpit or an indication of an inoperative/faulty system or while experiencing difficulty in handling/operating the aircraft,” he further said.

The DGCA on Wednesday ordered SpiceJet to operate a maximum of 50 percent of its flights for eight weeks after several of its planes reported technical malfunction recently.

Speaking to ANI, civil aviation regulator Director General of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Arun Kumar on Thursday said aircraft systems are reasonably robust and do have multiple redundancies but component failures do not imply that it is compromising the safety of the passengers.

“We are extremely proud of our pilots, who navigate occasional glitches with appropriate competence,” the civil aviation regulator’s chief said.

On being asked what was the major reason for such back-to-back technical snags and if has forced the regulator to rethink how much has it compromised passengers’ safety, he said that expectation of no component failures despite the requisite maintenance works is “unscientific and naive”.

An aircraft is a complex machine and has thousands of components and it may continue to be used for air operation subject to compliance with airworthiness requirements, he said.

Aviation is a highly process-driven sector and is the safest mode of transport globally. In 2021 and 2022, India had no fatal accidents.

Further, on being asked whether aeroplanes remaining non-functional for a long time during Covid were the underlying reasons for these snags, he replied that it may be possible.

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