Air safety: plunging standards

A number of recent incidents have exposed the poor safety standards and procedures in India’s aviation sector. There was no loss of life in any of the incidents but they caused health problems, discomfort, anxiety and tension for many passengers. Last week, the pilots of a Jet Airways Mumbai-Jaipur flight forgot to switch on the air pressure mechanism in the aircraft after its take-off and it led to many passengers suffering from nose bleeds, ear pain and headaches. The crew were apathetic to the passengers’ plight and did not know how to handle the situation. The plane had to return to Mumbai. Earlier this month, an Air India Delhi-New York flight suffered multiple systems failure and had to make an emergency landing in New Jersey. There have also been cases of near collisions, wrong landing, tyre bursts and other scary happenings in many parts of the country.  

The seriousness of these incidents may be realised from the possibility that some of them could have led to accidents that cost lives or caused greater inconvenience, monetary losses or other problems. They point to the need to improve the systems and processes relating to operations and attitudes and habits relating to work and service in the industry. The airlines industry has grown fast and passenger traffic has shown rapid growth. This may have led to a situation where airlines found themselves wanting in many respects. Competition may have made things worse. Aircraft are not always maintained and serviced well and may be subjected to overuse. There may be shortage of staff and personnel and their training may be inadequate. They are known for indifferent and callous attitudes and behaviour. The finances of the industry are not very stable and there may be a tendency to save money or cut corners even on essential matters. This is wrong because safety is the most important factor in travel by any mode. The infrastructure and services at the airports also need to be improved. They have an important role in ensuring air safety. 

A survey by the International Civil aviation Organisation (ICAO) has found that India’s aviation safety score is very low and is even below that of Bangladesh. India’s airlines are behind 160 other airlines in the world in respect of safety. It showed that the performance of the regulator, the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), is lacklustre. The civil aviation ministry has now ordered an audit of airlines, airports and flying schools. The ministry and the DGCA must take steps to ensure that the best safety standards are implemented and lapses and violations of norms are dealt with strictly. 

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Air safety: plunging standards

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