Safety Aspects-Commencement of Domestic Flight Operations
The much awaited news about the commencement of Domestic Flight Operations wef 25 May, after a long break, is a welcome development. The officials from MOCA, DGCA AAI and BCAS must have worked very hard notwithstanding the trying conditions created by COVID 19, to prepare and introduce various guidelines, rules and regulations to facilitate the commencement of the flight operations with safety and efficiency. It is a herculean and highly challenging task and the dedicated efforts of the Officials from all these departments, under unprecedented situation, are worthy of high praise.
The main concern of ASMSI is related to the Safety of the Domestic Flight Operations and we are sure that the concerned regulatory authorities and airlines must have given serious thought to safety aspects of operations.
The flying is commencing after a long break and the parked aircraft in the open skies must have been subjected to high temperatures, dust and water accumulation during thunder/ dust storms. This may have deteriorated or adversely affected the condition and performance of sensitive electronic equipment on board the aircraft, including alarm/warning systems and rubber seals etc.
Possibility of the rodents and reptiles entering some aircraft and birds, honey bees making nest/beehive on the aircraft, is another area of concern.
The adverse effect of parking of the aircraft for a long time may also lead to degradation of the material of tyres in contact with the surface and merits attention.
Aircraft with more than 20 years of life should be given special attention during inspection, maintenance, repairs and supervisors must be always very alert and vigilant to keep a close eye on the maintenance activities to ensure that there are no lapses.
The Flying, Maintenance and Air Traffic Controlling related currency and recency aspect of the Pilots, Cabin crew, Engineers, Technicians, ,ATC staff, Dispatchers,Ops and Maintenance Staff, Ground Handlers, Drivers of the Airside vehicles etc. should attract the attention of the management of the airlines. Special emphasis should be laid on refreshing the skill and knowledge levels of all these personnel lest the safety gets compromised.
The Pilots, Cabin Crew will be undertaking their task clad in PPE which may lead to restriction on the movement of their body parts to certain extent. Crew members need to be aware about the possibility of the distortions/inadequacy in communication due to PPE, Mask etc.
Cabin crew will have an important role to play in ensuring social distancing, use of masks, sanitisation and comforting the passengers. Some passengers becoming unruly due to psychological impacts of CORONA during the flight is a distinct possibility and may be factored by the airlines during the briefing.
Now onwards till September, the flying will be undertaken in very high temperature and active Pre monsoon/Monsoon conditions, with attendant risk related to this season. Pilots need to brush up their knowledge about their Aircraft,Systems,Avionics,Nav Aids,Radar,SOP’s,Procedures,Emergencies,Spatial Disorientation, Illusions, CFIT,Situational Awareness, Wind Shear, Hydroplaning and effect of high temperatures on performance.
In the interest of the Safety of the Operations, it would be essential to ensure dedicated involvement of the Top Management of the Airline and Airports, particularly Accountable Executives, Head of Safety,Operations,Maintenance and Training.
Thorough Pre Flight Briefing, Pre Descent and Approach briefing, Passenger briefing, Operation Risk Management, good CRM, Situational awareness and sound Decision Making are key to safe and efficient conduct of operations.
All the Operators are experiencing financial stress and may get in a great hurry to generate revenue and make up their losses. The tendency and temptation to take shortcuts in Operations, Maintenance and other related areas, compromise in compliance of rules, regulations and SOP’s etc. can be a serious hazards to safety. It is expected that all the stakeholders will adhere to the rules, regulations and will certainly involve themselves to measure up to the expectations of the Regulatory Authorities.
It has to be kept in mind that the Air, Ground, ATC Crew and supporting staff will be operating during adverse weather conditions experienced during extreme Summer, Pre monsoon and Monsoon months and they will be under great pressure to undertake the flights so as to generate revenue for the Company. Pilots, Engineers and other personnel operating under pressure conditions may pose major flight safety hazard and it needs to be addressed.
Further, the Air Crew as well as Ground and ATC crew will be operating under tough conditions due to lack of adequate suitable transportation,boarding,lodging facilities ,deduction in pay and allowances, perks and concern about their own and their family health. Psychological and fatigue factor of these personnel must be addressed and strict adherence to FDTL and FTL need to be ensured.
Due to disruption in manufacturing and supplies all around the world and massive orders backlog, the availability of spares and critical equipment will be a cause of great concern. So the Operators need to plan well in advance and should not pressurise Pilots and Engineers to make compromises on the airworthiness of the aircraft.
The Operators need to strike a healthy balance between Economic Revival, Viability and Safety of operations. Safety first and Safety Always should remain the motto if we are to make successful revival and economic viability.
It is also recommended that all the Operators conduct internal safety audit of their Ops,Training,Safety and Maintenance departments keeping the above aspects in mind, identify hazards in a Proactive manner and take prompt remedial measures.
Accountable Executives of the Operators should be impressed upon to fully involve themselves in ensuring high standards of safety in their respective organisations.
We are conscious of the fact that the Aviation Professionals from DGCA and Operators are highly knowledgeable and must be fully involved and already working on the lines which have been covered above.
Aviation Safety India will be more than willing to assist the Regulator and the Operators towards spread of knowledge and awareness, in conduct of audits and enhancing safety of Aviation Operations.
Proactive Hazard Identification, Reporting Hazards, Addressing and Eliminating Hazards are Key to Safe Conduct of Operations.