After 3 crashes, DGCA begins audit of private charter firm

NEW DELHI: A leading charter operator is under the regulatory lens following three crashes in the last eight years. Delhi-based Air Charter Services (ACS) saw its most recent crash last month when a trainer aircraft went down in Aligarh during approach for landing. Luckily, all the six people onboard the private aircraft survived. However, the other two crashes involving ACS planes had seen 11 deaths.

“The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is auditing the charter company,” said DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) chief Arun Kumar, who is known for zero tolerance to any safety violations and has recently cracked down on big airlines also for lack of safety culture.

ACS did not comment on what steps it is taking to improve its patchy safety record.

In May 2011, 10 people were killed after an ACS Pilatus PC12 aircraft crashed in Faridabad while operating a medical charter Patna to Delhi flight. And in March 2017, another Pilatus PC 12 of the company crashed during a Delhi-Bangkok medical charter, killing the pilot and leaving several others injured.

Before the recent Aligarh crash, the charter company was also in news for wrong reasons. The DGCA had to remove its deputy chief flight operation inspector (DyCFOI) for taking a joyride with his wife and sister-in-law along with ACS director and his wife on a flight while taking an examiner release check on two pilots.

The four — DyCFOI, his wife, his sister-in-law; ACS director and his wife — were seen holding wine bottle on this Delhi-Amritsar-Delhi flight in a picture posted on social media by ACS director’s wife. This despite the fact that consumption of alcohol is not allowed on domestic flights.

“The Aligarh crash involving ACS aircraft is being probed by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB). The charter company is under our scanner,” said Kumar.

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