• Fog flop: AI, SpiceJet get DGCA rap

    Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) pulled up Air India and SpiceJet for poor preparedness in running operations during fog, despite advisories on November 30 and December 1.

    In a letter dated December 12, the regulatory body said both airlines had to divert flights either because aircraft were operated by nonCAT III qualified captains or the aircraft themselves being non-CAT III compliant.

    “During low-visibility procedures, there were three diversions, one each of Air India, Air India Express and SpiceJet. Further, there had been 38 cancellations (24 departures and 14 arrivals) and 362 delays (179 departures and 183 arrivals),“ the letter stated.

    The letter added that “it seems the airlines are not geared up for safe operations during low-visibility period of the season“.

    DGCA warned that unless CAT-III qualified pilots were deployed to and from IGI airport during low visibility , “this office will be constrained to cancel the approval granted to the flights, which get diverted during low visibility and operated by nonCAT III qualified crew“.

    Air India refused to comment on the letter, while SpiceJet couldn’t be contacted for a reaction despite repeated attempts.

    Earlier, DGCA had mandated the close monitoring and planning of flights according to weather forecasts and in coordination with IMD, DIAL, DGCA and Airports Authority of India. It had also said that in case of zero visibility, no flight should be planned for Delhi.

    DGCA had also said that non-CAT III compliant air craft would have to be rescheduled between 10am and 8pm during fog. It wanted prior information of any delay or rescheduling of flights to be given to the passengers.

    Between December 1, 2015 and January 31, 2016, there were 25 diversions (13 international, 12 domestic) at IGI airport as compared to 59 diversions in the corresponding period in 2014-15.

    Flight disruptions still happen despite more advanced equipment as there are range limitations even in these. A CAT IIIB equipped aircraft needs minimum visibility of 50 metres against 300 metres in CAT II aircraft.  Joe Berger Authentic Jersey

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