IndiGo Calls for New Guidelines in Safety Evaluation

 - January 13, 2012, 10:05 AM
India’s DGCA cited 11 engine changes among IndiGo airplanes as cause for an ETOPS review. (Photo: Neelam Mathews)

Indian budget carrier IndiGo has called for an upgrade of the archaic 1982 Air Safety Circulars (ASC) of the subcontinent’s aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). It recommends that the DGCA adopt the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) April 2010 circulars, tailored to India’s specific requirements.

“Aircraft technology has undergone major changes and what was relevant three decades ago may no longer be significant,” Aditya Ghosh, IndiGo president, told AIN.

Two weeks ago, mayhem broke out following the accidental leak of a six-week-old DGCA unaudited report on “financial surveillance from safety perspective of scheduled airlines.” The report, which controversially draws a link between financial viability of airlines and safety, faced vociferous opposition by the industry, which argues there is no connection between an airline’s financial health and its safety practices.

Paradoxically, the leaked report reveals a lack of communication between the DGCA’s department responsible for air safety standards and hazards and the wing in charge of incidents. The October 2011 report notes 261 “snags” for IndiGo’s fleet of 46 aircraft, of which “the airline had reported only two incidents.” Had the DGCA realized they had been reported to the two relevant departments that did not cross-link, the agency would have recognized the discrepancy , a ministry of civil aviation official told AIN. “Such an oversight can seriously affect the image of India’s most successful and profitable airline,” he added.

“In view of a large number of premature engine removals (11) that took place [at IndiGo] in a short span (January to October 2011), the ETOPS need review,” says the report. This too became lost in translation as Ghosh indicated that seven of the engine removals complied with an FAA Airworthiness Directive (AD) on the HPC 3-8 drum for IAE V2500-A5 engines, which requires the change of  “silver coated” nuts between the HPC 3-8 drum and the 9-12 HPC drum inside the engine to a “non-silver coated” nut. The deadline to comply with the FAA AD falls in January 2013, but IndiGo had proactively complied well ahead of time.

“The engine removals were not because of any performance degradation of the propulsion system but for pertinently complying with the AD or damage due to bird hits (three),” added Ghosh.

With major issues clarified, reacting to the DGCA’s comments that “the fast growth induction plan of IndiGo needs revision,” Ghosh noted that his airline’s acquisition plans will remain unhindered. Plans call for the addition of 12 aircraft by the end of this year, taking the IndiGo fleet to 60.