Is it Safe to Fly?

by October 15, 2018 0 comments

Air India Express

Since an Air India Express plane crashed into the airport wall, the airport security is under question.

What does it say about Indian airport security that it took several hours for the airport authorities and the pilots to realise that an Air India Express plane had grazed the airport wall at Tiruchirappalli Airport. There are nowadays almost weekly incidents that are affecting Indian aviation, from taking-off and landing on wrong runways, forgetting to pressurise the plane and now hitting a wall and not realising it. We have had a horrible few months. But thankfully there has been not a single fatality in any of these cases, some aircraft damage to be sure but planes can always be repaired like the aircraft involved in this incident even with its ripped underbelly will be.

Aviation traffic has grown dramatically in India over the past few years. India’s civil fleet has grown from just over 200 planes to over 500 now. New aircraft are arriving every few weeks and new airports are bringing connectivity to the farthest corners of the country. However, like with any growing industry there will be growth pangs. The problem is that these growth pangs are playing with the lives of fare-paying passengers. Airport perimeter security and careful flying are important to ensure that incidents are kept to a minimum. Of course, that is not to say that incidents will not happen and when incidents happen with large commercial aircraft there tends to be a media frenzy, quite unlike a bus or a train accident, because like it or not, the passengers on a plane are what we would consider ‘people like us’, and while one can argue whether that is fair, that is what will happen. Incidents also tend to be blown out of proportion by a sensationalist television media in particular. Having said that, it must be pointed out that there is genuine concern among passengers on airport safety in particular and the scary bit is not that the Air India Express aircraft hit the wall but that it took off and flew for four hours with a seriously damaged underbelly before anyone on the ground noticed it and alerted the captain. It was providential that a major air disaster did not take place.  

Many of the recent incidents have been avoidable and that could spark a fear of flying among the general public. And with high fuel prices and and declining yields, this is not something that India’s airlines or the government itself wants right now. For one, India’s aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) needs urgent reform to improve their incident reporting and investigation teams, the DGCA has been rife with allegations of nepotism for years and the kith and kin of several officers are employed by the airlines in a perverse quid pro quo. Similarly, Indian airport security that obsessively focuses on passengers, should improve their security to become more holistic.  One hopes that the incidents remain ones where nobody gets hurt, but that is just a hope.

Writer: The Pioneer

Source: The Pioneer

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