With airlines reporting multiple technical malfunction incidents, aviation regulator DGCA on Monday, July 18 said it conducted spot checks and found that there is an insufficient number of engineering personnel certifying planes of various carriers before their departure.
Before each departure, an aircraft is checked and certified by an aircraft maintenance engineer (AME). The DGCA has now issued guidelines for airlines on the deployment of AME personnel and directed them to comply by July 28.
The spot checks also found that the AME teams of airlines are improperly identifying the “cause of a reported defect”, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)’s order noted. They also found that there has been an “increasing trend of MEL (minimum equipment list) releases” of aircraft, it said.
“MEL releases” means an aircraft is allowed to fly with certain inoperative equipment or instruments for a specific period until the repairs are done.
“It is also seen that airlines are resorting to frequent one-off authorisation to Category A certifying staff at transit stations which is not in line with existing regulatory provisions,” the DGCA said.
A Category A engineer is called a ‘limited scope engineer’, and he or she is allowed to certify and release planes for departures only when the aircraft does not have a complex defect.
The Category B1 engineer is one step above the Category A engineer and he or she is capable of handling mechanical defects. Category B2 engineering is capable of handling defects in the electronic equipment of planes.
The DGCA said: “It has been decided that all aircraft at base and transit stations shall be released by certifying staff holding AME Category B1/B2 license with appropriate authorisation by their organisation.”
The regulator told airlines to position Category B1 and Category B2 engineers at all base and transit stations and make sure that required tools and equipment are available. “Alternatively, you may opt for sending the certifying staff on flight duties,” the DGCA mentioned.
The DGCA said that its directions must be complied with by July 28. The DGCA is currently investigating all the incidents.
Aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia held one-on-one meetings with chiefs of Indian carriers, asking them to ramp up safety oversight. The meeting comes as a result of multiple technical malfunction incidents in Indian carriers’ planes that have taken place in the last month.