Air Safety is Priority, Says Amber Dubay India Head of Aerospace and Defense, KPMG in his interview

Amber Dubey, partner and India head of aerospace and defence at global consultancy KPMG, tells us that with spread of aviation across the country through the government’s ambitious Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), the challenge of enhancing safety structures and procedures has increased manifold

India is on a modernisation spree of its aviation sector. What are the challenges regarding safety issues?

Safety challenges will remain the same despite growth in aviation. Some of the main factors include ensuring airworthiness of aircrafts in operation and maintenance of other equipment (ground equipment, navigation equipment, etc.), keeping cognizance of human performance limitation, ensuring maintenance of security processes and ensuring adequate communication amongst all aviation stakeholders.

The real issue that India is experiencing, thanks to the high growth phase in traffic, is that adequate structures and procedures are yet to be build to deal with the scale of errors and violations that would occur. Oversight of the aforementioned activities would have to become more robust in order to ensure safe operating levels.

Ensuring safety assurance at the level of all operators along with requisite oversight by regulatory authorities (Directorate General of Civil Aviation [DGCA] and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security [BCAS]) is the challenge. This challenge is enhanced manifold with the spread of aviation across the country through the government’s ambitious RCS initiative.

How is the challenge being addressed by different stakeholders in India?

The challenge of dealing with this kind of growth is not intrinsic or restricted only to India. There are adequate procedures and guidance available globally to act as reference points for India.

The stakeholders (Ministry of Civil Aviation [MoCA], regulators, Air Navigation Service [ANS] providers, airline operators, and Maintenance, Repair and Operations [MRO] operators) have taken up the task of addressing the safety issue within their own spheres of operation.

An example of this is the effort being undertaken by stakeholders towards implementation of GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN). Developed by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in conjunction with Airports Authority of India (AAI), GAGAN provides highly accurate satellite-based guidance to aircrafts and obviates the requirement to have ground-based navigation equipment. This coupled with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast ADS-B (Out) will push the safety envelope across not only India but also across most parts of Africa and Asia.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) conducted a 10-day audit of India’s aviation regulator in November. It placed India in its list of 13 worst-performing nations in terms of air safety in 2012. Will India fare any better this time? We believe MoCA and DGCA are taking adequate steps to address the adverse findings of previous ICAO reviews. Things may get better with time. Once 90 percent of DGCA processes become automated and online, it will free their bandwidth for more extensive field inspections, without going overboard. That may lead to a better oversight of adherence to safety norms.

How is the rapid modernisation straining safety issues?

More than rapid modernisation, the increased utilisation of aircrafts, airport infrastructure, non-availability of skilled manpower, etc., are straining safety structures.

Even though such growth is highly welcome, its quantum was not foreseen. As a result, the internal safety control and safety assurance structures of the operators along with regulatory oversight structures are over-stretched. It needs to be addressed on priority. Any unfortunate incident involving loss of lives can set Indian aviation back by five to ten years.

How far is the institutional and regulatory framework geared up to implement a robust safety system in Indian aviation?

The DGCA is undertaking a comprehensive review of the regulations to ensure relevance and practical implementation.

BCAS has also taken steps to ensure a seamless travel experience while maintaining security standards. The removal of hand baggage tags is welcome. We may soon shift to biometric checks and paperless travel. Even immigration checks may go digital.

IndiGo Airlines puts passenger going to Nagpur on Indore flight in a Security Gaffe

IndiGo Airlines security gaffe, a man heading to Nagpur was put on a wrong flight. The passenger landed in Indore and had to be sent to his destination.

The airline has issued an apology and has started a probe into the matter. “IndiGo regrets the security breach intercepted by its security staff on flight 6E 774 (DEL-NAG), wherein a passenger of flight 6E 656 (DEL-IDR) wrongly boarded the flight 6E 774 and further travelled to Nagpur, after boarding the wrong coach,” a statement by the airlines mentioned.

An unnamed official mentioned that the passenger was given the correct boarding pass during check-in, but somehow when he boarded the wrong flight, none of IndiGo’s staffers noticed his pass, according to a report in the Indian Express.

The statement also mentioned that the security lead, second lead and skipper (security personnel) have been taken off roster till IndiGo’s internal enquiry is completed.

 

Senior Pilots to Serve One-Year Notice Period, Says DGCA

Senior pilots will now have to serve a 12-month notice period before joining another airline, with aviation regulator DGCA coming out with new rules. The notice period, however, may be reduced if the air transport undertaking provides a no-objection certificate to a pilot and accepts his resignation earlier than the period stipulated in the amended rules, as per the amended Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR).

Notwithstanding opposition from the pilots’ community, on the new rules coming into effect immediately, Jet Airways’ pilots’ union has voiced strong opposition to the DGCA decision along with National Aviators Guild (NAG) President D Balaraman who said “We seriously object to this new rule. We were opposed to it and we remain opposed to it. We will strongly protest this move along with all pilots from all airlines.”

Remote air traffic controllers a possibility in India

India is considering setting up remote air traffic control (ATC) towers to cut costs and overcome labour shortages. Remote monitoring will allow traditional concrete control towers to be replaced with dozens of high resolution, infra-red cameras around runways that feed live images to screens in buildings far from the airport. The technology will enable flights at multiple airports to be monitored from one location, reducing the need for air traffic controllers and physical towers at every airport.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has initiated a study on remote monitoring of flights, with a recommendation expected in September, one of the sources said. A decision to proceed could be a boost to companies like Sweden’s Saab and Canada-based Searidge Technologies that are already in talks with the airport regulator to bring the technology to India.

Regulations

The AAI is working with India’s aviation safety watchdog, the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), on the study and has sought information from countries where remote towers are in use, one source said.

The plan hinges on the DGCA’s approval, because remote tower technology is not standardised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, which is still drawing up regulations. In the meantime, countries follow their own safety guidelines.

Challenges

The bigger concern, however, is the transfer of data from the airport to the remote tower. An ATC official at India’s airport regulator said they are yet to understand how the data transfer will work, what medium will be used and what the backup will be. “If the (data transfer) medium goes blank, the airport will be cut off,” said the official, who did not wish to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Controllers would also need to be trained to recognise and adapt to local conditions, including weather and topography, of multiple airports instead of just one, the source added.

Rolls-Royce manager presented with Whittle Safety Award

The International Federation of Airworthiness (IFA) has honored Mike Gamlin, manager of air safety investigation at Rolls-Royce PLC, with the Sir Frank Whittle Safety Award.

The award was presented Sept. 20 at the U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) headquarters in Farnborough and recognizes outstanding contributions that advance the safety of aviation.

At the presentation, Gamlin said: “I’m humbled to receive this prestigious award from the federation.”

“I’m so pleased to present this award to Mike Gamlin at the U.K. AAIB for his long-standing contribution to aviation safety,” said IFA chief executive John Vincent.

“This award is granted in recognition of Mike’s dedication to ensuring the effective investigation of aircraft accidents across the globe. Mike is trusted and well respected throughout the international aviation community.”

The IFA board unanimously agreed that with a career of over 42 years at Rolls-Royce, the majority of which has been in an accident investigation role, Gamlin has provided a level of technical leadership and is recognized and appreciated around the world. He is responsible for leading, directing and coordinating the support of state-led safety related investigations of events, incidents and accidents involving Rolls-Royce civil and military products and systems.

IFA member Cranfield University, in their nomination, highlighted Gamlin’s integrity, focused on transparent, evidence-based and unbiased investigation techniques delivering continuous improvement to Rolls-Royce products.

Gamlin and his team have built an extensive network of relationships with key international safety investigation agencies, aircraft and engine manufacturers. They are said to be trusted and respected by their peers at all levels across the global accident investigation community.

This contributes to the effectiveness of the accident investigation process and thus the safety of the traveling public.

The award citation reads:

“In recognition of his contribution to aviation safety over more than four decades. In particular, the extensive work ensuring the effectiveness of accident investigation across the globe. He is trusted and well respected across the global aviation community.”

IAF chopper makes emergency landing

An Indian Air Force chopper, shifting a Special Task Force (STF) jawan wounded in a gun-battle with naxals, made an emergency landing today in Abhanpur area in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur district due to a technical snag.

There is no information on any kind of damage or loss when the helicopter landed on an open ground in Bharenga village on Wednesday, 27th Sept 2017.

“The chopper was on its way to Raipur from Narayanpur district to shift the injured jawan Antosh Markam to hospital in Raipur,” Special Director General of Police (Anti-naxal operations) DM Awasthi told.

However, the pilot landed the chopper after he found some technical problem, another chopper was immediately sent to the spot, to airlift the jawan who was later admitted in the Ramkrishna Care Hospital Raipur.