These shortcomings, according to a DGCA note of July 18, included “improper” diagnosis of defects reported, inadequate number of trained aircraft maintenance engineers to check and certify aircraft before take off, and an increasing trend of releasing aircraft under “minimum equipment list” (MEL) — where a plane is allowed to fly subject to the condition that a non-critical component that is either malfunctioning or is not working, will be repaired or replaced within a certain time frame.
The special audit is focusing on facilities like hangars and stores, equipment being used by airline personnel, airlines’ quality assurance system, aircraft grounded due to lack of spare parts, and airlines’ maintenance control centres, a DGCA order dated July 18 stated.
It will also examine the availability of “sufficient, suitably qualified, and experienced” manpower, duty time limitations, availability of current maintenance data for all types of aircraft, adequacy of aircraft turn-around time during transit, and “multiple MEL releases”, as per the order.
“There have been reports of increased engineering related occurrences in scheduled airlines in recent times,” the order mentions. The special audit is meant to check if scheduled airlines are adhering to “laid down standards”.
Several regulatory actions are now on simultaneously. The DGCA had on July 5, 2022, issued a show cause notice to cash-strapped SpiceJet, after a spate of incidents and for failing “to establish safe, efficient and reliable air services”.
The budget airline has to explain by Tuesday (July 26) why action should not be taken against it. A decision on that is likely this week.
The order of July 18, which triggered the special audit for all airlines, says carriers “are resorting to frequent one-off authorisation to (some) certifying staff at transit stations, which is not in line with existing regulatory provisions”.
The last few months have seen a spike in mid-air snags.