Air India Faces Probe for Falsifying Safety Reports
Air India is currently under investigation after it was revealed that the airline allegedly fabricated safety audit reports. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has initiated an inquiry into the matter following the discovery of lapses in internal safety audits. A two-member inspection team conducted an examination, which unveiled significant irregularities in the airline’s safety procedures.
Lapses Detected by Inspection Team
The inspection team found several concerning discrepancies in Air India’s safety audit reports. The airline was required to conduct routine safety spot checks across various operational areas, including cabin surveillance, cargo handling, ramp operations, and load management. However, during a random inspection of 13 safety points, the team uncovered that Air India had prepared false reports for all 13 cases.
“Moreover, when cross-verified with CCTV footage, recordings, auditee statements, shift register documents, GD (General Declaration) list, passenger manifest, etc., it is understood that all the aforementioned 13 spot checks, supposedly carried out in stations Mumbai, Goa, and Delhi, were verified and were established to have not been actually performed.”
The inspection team also noted that these fabricated reports were generated only when demanded by the DGCA team. Additionally, the forged spot check reports lacked the signature of the Chief of Flight Safety (CFS), the authorized signatory for such documents.
Audit Irregularities and Unverified Claims
Furthermore, the inspection report revealed that the checklists for these spot checks were signed by an auditor from the Quality Management System (QMS) Department. However, this falls outside the approval and inspection scope of the DGCA, as it has different eligibility criteria and qualification industry standards. The inspection team found no evidence of written authorization for the delegation of authority to the QMS auditor.
The report also highlighted Air India’s failure to provide documentation for the delegation of authority for these spot checks. Despite verbal confirmation from the CFS, there was a lack of written communication or email correspondence regarding the authorization process.
Regarding the Pre-Flight Medical Examination, the inspection team discovered that Air India claimed to have conducted alcohol consumption tests for pilots. However, the internal auditor responsible for the test had not physically visited the facility, which is a mandatory requirement. Additionally, equipment details and test readings were missing from the checklist, raising concerns about the accuracy of the reported results.
Inaccuracies Across Operational Areas
The inspection team identified discrepancies in various operational areas. In the case of ramp services, the airline’s spot check list included the name of a non-existent duty officer for a particular shift. The auditee department confirmed the absence of spot checks on the specified date in that area. Similarly, for cabin surveillance, Air India claimed to have performed the spot check, but the investigation revealed that the assigned auditor was actually a passenger on the flight and not actively conducting the check.
Furthermore, the airline was unable to promptly provide the flight safety auditors’ list, which became available only at the end of the inspection. This list included auditors from the QMS department, whose qualifications and eligibility differed from the standards specified by the DGCA in the Flight Safety Manual.
The operator’s failure to differentiate between flight safety auditors and QMS auditors raised concerns about the accuracy and compliance of the audit process.
Air India’s Response
In response to the allegations, an Air India spokesperson emphasized that all airlines, including Air India, undergo regular safety audits by regulators and other relevant bodies. The spokesperson stated that the airline actively participates in these audits to continually enhance its operational processes. Additionally, Air India is committed to addressing any concerns raised by the authorities.
It’s important to note that aviation companies in India and overseas are subject to routine safety audits to ensure compliance with industry standards and regulations.