India's domestic air passenger traffic is on the rise, but carriers reporting technical snags raises questions over safety

Indian's are flying a lot more these days. But with carriers reporting an exceptional jump in technical glitches, alongside alleged safety violations, questions over passengers' safety are doing the rounds.

India's domestic air passenger traffic grew 24.14 percent in February over the year-ago period, logging its fastest pace in 13 months, reported BloombergQuint. This, despite the fact that February is a lean month. However, airlines have recorded an uncommon jump in technical glitches over the past few days, raising questions over passengers' safety ahead of the peak summer season.

Data furnished by regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) revealed carriers flew 1.07 crore passengers in February. But, according to The Economic Times, the weekend saw IndiGo reporting five technical glitches, while SpiceJet and Jet Airways logged three each. Air India recorded two technical snags.

IndiGo has been grappling with problems with A320neo jets powered by Pratt & Whitney (P&W) engines for a while now, with as many as 12 A320neo grounded.  Last week IndiGo and GoAir had to cancel around 50 flights as almost a third of their A320new aircraft fleet remained grounded following a safety directive by the DGCA.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha on 13 March told the Rajya Sabha that technical snags in airlines have gone up from 15,048 in 2014 to 21,500 in 2016. "Snags have increased due to increase in number of aircraft in the airline and increased number of flight sectors," he said.

Are carriers flouting safety norms? 

That apart, as many as 54 cases of violations of air safety norms, by Air India and private airlines, have been reported in the first two months of 2018.

Sinha, on 8 March, told the Lok Sabha that "there were 352 safety violations by Air India and private airlines in the year 2016 whereas the number of violations in the year 2017 was 269."

According to Sinha, the DGCA has taken various measures to ensure the safe operation of aircraft and high international standards.

Airlines riddled with technical snags 

Airlines reported over 24,700 technical snags in 2017, with Jet Airways alone accounting for 9,689 of them, followed by SpiceJet which reported 4,903 snags and the Air India group at 4,563. GoAir reported 1,888 snags, AirAsia (1,367), Vistara (1,225), Blue Dart (793), IndiGo (340) and Zoom Air (23), the data showed.

Jet had reported 6,535 snags in its Boeing fleet, 831 in its Airbus fleet and 1,333 in its ATRs. In the case of SpiceJet, 2,910 snags were reported with respect to the Boeing 737 and 1,993 related to the Bombardier Q400. As per DGCA data, Air India reported 337 snags in its Airbus fleet. The number was 48 in the case of its Boeing fleet.

What are technical snags? 

A technical snag (defect) refers to a problem in an aircraft, or aircraft components, arising from any cause other than damage, which would preclude it or another aircraft component from performing their intended functions. The DGCA has regulations and procedures for monitoring snags encountered during aircraft operations. These include conducting spot checks, analysing engineering statistical reports and advising aircraft operators to take corrective actions if there is any adverse trend.

The years 2017, 2016 and 2015 were, according to a Huffpost report, the worst three-years for aviation safety in India.

With inputs from agencies.

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Updated Date: Mar 20, 2018 16:45:45 IST

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