Ground incidents: DGCA to inspect safety of airside facilities quarterly

In the backdrop of rising ground incidents at airports across India, including one at Delhi where an aircraft engine was hit by a toilet cart, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said it will start quarterly safety audits of airside activities at aerodromes. The audits will be based on a detailed checklist prepared by the aviation safety regulator to benchmark safety standards.

“As Indian airports are getting busier in view of the exponential growth in civil aviation, the number of ground incidents at Indian airports involving aircraft are also increasing. Since January 2019, at Delhi airport seven such ground incidents have been reported involving various aircraft. In two cases, engines of the aircraft were hit by ground power unit, in one case by a ladder and in another case by a toilet cart. Similarly, in Mumbai, one aircraft was hit by a ground tractor, another by an empty container trolley and the third by a flying container because of the strong winds and it was not properly tied,” Deputy Director General of Civil Aviation DC Sharma noted in his letter to airport operators, a copy of which was seen.

The checklist that has been prepared details the ground facilities checks, which include ground servicing equipment, passenger boarding bridge, condition of apron, lighting, availability of foreign object debris bins, etc.

It also includes knowledge of personnel pertaining to aircraft turnaround and general safety procedures such as aircraft fuelling, pushback, towing, etc.

“In order to regulate the airside activities and to reduce the ground incidents for safe operations of aircraft, DGCA has decided to conduct the safety audit of airside activities quarterly as per the … checklist. First safety audit based on checklist will be conducted after two months. It is expected that airport operators shall ensure the compliance of safety standards laid down in enclosed checklist,” the letter pointed out.

To regulate movement of vehicles on the airside, there would be checks on fitness of vehicles as well as of drivers. The knowledge of drivers about aerodrome markings, lighting, terms and phrases used in airside operations, among others, would also be checked. Among others, the checklist includes aircraft turnaround and general safety procedures such as aircraft fuelling, pushback, handling of arrival and departure of a plane, as per the communication. There are more than 100 operational airports in the country.

Last month, a DGCA committee found that SpiceJet engineer Rohit Pandey, who died at the Kolkata airport on July 9 after getting stuck in a plane’s landing gear door, was untrained and was working without any supervision. Notably, earlier this week, the DGCA proposed to extend the alcohol tests to ground personnel and air traffic controllers.

Click Here To Read AD AC 1 OF 2019 – Guidance on Assessment and Measurement of Runway Surface Friction Characteristics at Aerodromes

Click Here To ReadAD AC 2 OF 2019 – Ground Handling and Apron Inspection Checklist

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