The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has decided to conduct a quarterly safety audit of airside operations of all airports in order to check the rise in ground incidents and regulate the airside activities. The audit will commence after two months.
Pointing out the need for preventive measures because of a recent spike in ground incidents across airports, the regulator has told the operators that it has developed a detailed checklist to benchmark safety standards for the operations on the airside.
The regulator will audit an airport’s ground facilities, its turnaround and general safety procedures, and the movement of vehicles.
Underground facilities, ground servicing equipment, passenger boarding bridges, condition of the apron, marking and lighting, and availability of foreign object dustbin bins will be checked.
In order to regulate the movement of vehicles in the airside, their fitness and drivers and their knowledge with regard to geography of aerodrome, signs, marking, lighting, radiotelephony operating procedure, terms and phrases used in airside operations, adequate training of driving or operating the relevant vehicles, and the training of employees working at airside will also be checked.
The checklist also includes aircraft turnaround and general safety procedures such as fuelling, pushback, towing, marshalling, mooring, handling of arrival and departure.
The move comes in the background of a rise in ground incidents across airports. Delhi, which has the country’s busiest airport, has witnessed seven ground incidents since January.
While in two of these cases, engines of the aircraft were hit by the ground power unit, it was hit by a toilet cart in another. Mumbai has also seen such incidents recently whereby once an aircraft was hit by a ground tractor. In another incident, an aircraft was hit by a flying container during strong winds as the container was not properly tied.
Such incidents have been reported in Hyderabad, Cochin, Chennai, Trichy, Rajkot as well among other airports.
“As Indian airports are getting busier in view of the exponential growth in civil Aviation, the number of ground incidents involving aircraft are also increasing.....In order to curb such incidents, DGCA has developed a detailed checklist to benchmark safety standards on the airside of the airport,” the regulator has said in its order
Last month an Air India Express and SpiceJet aircraft overshot runways at Mangaluru and Surat respectively while a SpiceJet plane veered off the runway at Mumbai. The DGCA has also suspended the pilots involved in the incident.
The regulator has also initiated an audit of all airlines and airports following these incidents. The audit will emphasise on pilot training, especially operations in adverse weather and schedules to take care of fatigue. In case of airports, runway conditions, runway lights, navigation facilities and drainage are being checked. Friction test was carried out at Mumbai airport's main runway and was found to be satisfactory, the DGCA said.