HC notice to Centre on airlines’ maintenance schedules

New Delhi, Aug 28 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notices to the Centre and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on a plea that various private airlines were violating/circumventing the mandatory provisions of airworthiness and air safety.

A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath asked the ministry of civil aviation and the DGCA to file their responses by October 7.

The public interest litigation (PIL) filed by one Alok Kumar asked the court to direct the DGCA to formulate a procedure to systematically and periodically monitor and ensure that all the airlines followed the maintenance schedules prescribed by the aircraft manufacturers.

“Civil Aviation Requirement Manual issued by the DGCA mandates various safety and airworthiness measures, namely, no release of aircraft for flight without it being approved under the Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL), and maintenance exercises to be undertaken by the airlines as per the DGCA provisions for maintenance, repair and overhauling (MRO). But the DGCA has no prescribed mechanism for ensuring such provisions, thereby opening the doors for non-compliance with the same, leading to dire consequences,” said the plea.

It said that almost 90 per cent of the MRO services are being carried out outside India and most airlines operating in India relied on third party MRO service providers situated outside India.

As a result, private airlines, in order to save time and cost, were not regularly sending their aircraft for mandatory service, said the plea.

It said that the DGCA came up with the state safety programme in 2010 which has not been implemented at all because of shortage of inspectors/officials available with the DGCA.

As the country’s airline traffic is growing and the airline market becoming more and more competitive, private players were giving the mandatory safety requirements a go-by for cutting down on cost and time, and aircraft and flight crew were utilised beyond the maximum prescribed period for maximum revenue generation, the plea said.

The PIL sought directions that the DGCA take action against erring airlines and to frame regulations pertaining to maximum working hours for pilots and flight crew.

The DGCA should ensure that even foreign airplanes flying in India follow the regulation framed by it and follow the maintenance schedules prescribed by aircraft manufacturers, it added.

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