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IndiGo responds to DGCA’s charges on “unsafe airlines”

The on-going spat between India’s aviation regulator the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and the airlines has been raging for the last few days, which has seen some pretty serious charges come forth from the regulator.

IndiGo, which is believed to be India’s only profitable airline at present, has responded to the charges of the DGCA in a statement.

IndiGo response to findings during Financial Surveillance Audit

This is with regards to the recent stories that have been reported in the press based on DGCA’s findings during financial surveillance audit where issues were raised about IndiGo’s safety norms. Safety is a key concern at IndiGo, and as an airline we always cooperate with the DGCA and comply with the regulator’s instructions. IndiGo is the first airline in India to proactively start to implement a Safety Management System (SMS), we follow our training, monitoring and safety procedures meticulously with no exceptions. Also, since its launch IndiGo practices 100% Flight Data Monitoring and follow – up action is immediately taken where required.

Specific to the financial audit and safety review by the DGCA report on airlines, the following is IndiGo’s stance to each of the issues that have been raised:

[DGCA observation]

1) A total of 11 premature engine removals were carried out till October, 2011, out of which three were due to bird hits, which is considered to a large number.

INDIGO’s STANCE
Seven of the above engine removals were in compliance of FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] Airworthiness Directive (AD)*. The deadline to comply with the FAA AD is January, 2013. In fact, IndiGo has pro-actively complied with the FAA AD well ahead of time. Three engines were removed due to discrepancy found post bird hit inspections. One engine was removed due to fracture of lug on Gearbox casing.

*{There is an Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2010-20-07 issued by FAA on the HPC 3-8 drum for IAE V2500-A5 engines. Subsequently DGCA has issued Mandatory Mod DGCA/V2500/12 for complying with this FAA AD. This essentially requires the change of a “Silver coated” nuts between the HPC 3-8 Drum and the 9-12 HPC Drum inside the engine to a “Non-Silver Coated” nut. This AD states that this should be complied on all affected engines by January, 2013. In order to comply with this, the engine has to be removed and sent to the shop. In the IndiGo fleet, this FAA AD was applicable to 45 Engines. IndiGo took a pro-active approach and has complied with this AD on 43 Engines as per FAA AD. Therefore, IndiGo is complying with this Directive well-ahead of the deadline.}

In view of the same, it is noted that the above mentioned engine removals were not because of any performance degradation of propulsion system but for pertinently complying with the AD or damage due to bird hits. Hence, this query stands answered and closed.

2) Scrutiny of the “Snag Reporting Form” of the period Jan-Oct, 2011 reveals that large number of engineering snags have occurred, which are on an average about 250 on monthly basis. In the month of Oct. 2011 itself, a total of 261 snags have been reported for a fleet of 46 aircraft. However, the airline has reported only two incidents to DGCA. Preliminary examinations of the snags reveal that few of the snags are reportable incidents, which have not been reported by the airline.

INDIGO’s STANCE
IndiGo submits a “Daily Defect Report” to the Airworthiness department of DGCA and therefore, there is 100 % reporting of all maintenance actions. Incident reporting at present is being done as per the guidelines of DGCA Air Safety Circular (ASC) 5 of 82. A meeting was held between IndiGo’s and DGCA Air Safety officials on 30th December, 2011, wherein all 261 pilot reported defects were jointly reviewed and following was agreed upon:

a. PIB to be carried out within next 10 working days on following three Pilot reported defects:

  • VT – IEH: ENG # 2 FADEC Alternator, OVSPD protection fault, ENG # FADEC B Fault of 7th October, 2011
  • VT – INE: Engine Vibration of October 22nd, 2011
  • VT – IEC: ADR Disagree of October 25th, 2011

b. IndiGo will constitute an internal committee and prepare case studies for commonly occurring snags such as Vent Avionics Fault, Brake, LGCIU Fault, Door Warnings and Nose wheel vibration. Findings from the case studies shall be submitted by the middle of February, 2012.

In view of the above, the open issue is adequately addressed and closed.

3) As envisaged in Aviation Environmental Circular 1 of 2009, the airline does not have Environmental Cell.

INDIGO’s STANCE

IndiGo has constituted an environmental cell. The members of the Environmental Cell are S.C Gupta, Vice President – Engineering, (Nodal Office), Mukesh, Dy. Chief of Flight Safety, M.S Ahluwalia, Director – Power plant and Contracts, Mr. Aakash Bhatnagar, DGM – Flight Operations.

4) A total of 60 incidents have been reported in 2011(up to Oct.). Out of 60 incidents, investigations of 30 incidents was carried which include 26 Single Page Investigations, which were conducted by the airlines itself without appropriate approval from DGCA. Seven of the Precautionary Landings have also been investigated through single page report.

INDIGO’s STANCE
IndiGo carries out detailed investigations into each incident case. PIB reports for minor incidents were prepared in a DGCA approved Single Page format. However this practice has been since discontinued. In this regard, we treat the issue closed.

5) FOQA record of 100% monitoring could not be verified due to non-availability of proper data.

INDIGO’s STANCE
It is submitted that IndiGo has 100% FOQA records available. This can be checked at any time. In this regard, we treat the issue closed.

6)There were total 35 FDTL exceedances from January to 20th November, 2011, out of which eight were due to midnight landing.

INDIGO’s STANCE
These FDTL’s exceedances occur due to unavoidable circumstances such as weather, traffic congestion and flight diversions. Whenever such instances occur, we provide additional rest to the crew to prevent fatigue and the same have been reported to DGCA on regular basis. None of these were planned FDTL exceedances. The open query stands answered and closed.

7) Shortage of pilot Instructor/Examiners and backlog of trainings

INDIGO’s STANCE
We have consciously “over hired’ pilots, especially highly trained and experienced pilots and Training Captains more than the normal hiring ratios. IndiGo presently has strength of 50 Training Captains, and have an additional 44 number of Training Captains are in process of being hired or qualified as trainers.

In addition to the above 50 Training Captains, IndiGo is presently using DGCA authorized Indian and Expats Training Captains on FAT, Airbus Training captains as part of the support team. Training Captains at location outside India with CAE under exclusive agreement, Training Captains of CTC, UK (DGCA authorized).

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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