National : What ails aviation? Poor financials, broken supply chain & DGCA’s flawed tech base
By Kumar Vikram
New Delhi, July 24 : Poor financials of the airlines, broken supply chain and lack of technical efficiency in DGCA are some of the major reasons behind the rising number of instances involving technical glitches in planes, feel aviation safety and industry experts.
Aviation consultant and former chief of Vayudoot, Harsh Vardhan, agreed that aircraft have been witnessing technical snag-related incidents.
“Aircraft were lying idle during the Covid period of nearly two years. Many airlines resorted to cost cutting and retrenchment was part of it. Now, after a sudden surge in demand, a large number of aircraft have been deployed whereas many airlines have not recruited enough manpower to handle the pressure. New staff are there at many places, but they need to be synchronised with the system and require reorientation,” he said.
About the financial stress most of the airlines are going through, Vardhan said that most of the Indian airlines are running into losses since 2008.
“The cost of operation is high in India. Aviation fuel rates are on a higher side. Cash flow and liquidity have been major issues, particularly during the Covid period of two years. There are suppliers of spare parts who cater to the maintenance related demands of aircraft.
“In many airlines, suppliers of spares have not been paid completely due to poor financial conditions some airlines are going through and as a result the supply chain has been disturbed. All these things have an impact on the day-to-day maintenance of aircraft,” he added.
Speaking about the role of aviation regulator DGCA, Vardhan said that it lacks technical competence.
“Regulatory body DGCA does not have much technical competence. They are mostly dependent on the airlines for regular monitoring of aircraft,” he said.
However, Vardhan agreed that many of the malfunction is also due to weather and such type of occurrences are taking place across the airlines all over the world.
“Oversight and deployment of the fleet is crucial at this stage,” he said.
Aviation safety experts also pointed towards the same.
Aviation safety consultant Captain Mohan Ranganathan said, “The string of incidents occurring of late is because airlines are fudging maintenance procedures due to lack of finance, shortage of trained manpower, and fatigue issues of staff not being taken care of.”
Rangnathan also pointed out that the failure of DGCA to enforce safety regulations, conducting financial audits and covering up accidents and serious incidents as minor incidents are some other reasons.
“One cannot let things ride thinking nothing has happened hence we are safe,” he added.
Jitender Bhargava, former executive director of Air India, said that given the current situation, it is very difficult to reach the breakeven position for many airlines in the country.
“In India, every airline wants to fill its seats and in that process, they keep the fare lower. Covid has impacted the health of the sector badly. Rate of aviation fuel has been on a higher side. All these things have impacted the financials of the airlines,” Bhargava said.