On the day DGCA issued a show-cause notice to SpiceJet following eight technical malfunction incidents in the last 18 days, company’s CMD Ajay Singh said they will now be “doubly careful” and strengthen inspection of aircraft before they leave to operate flights. “We will work with them (DGCA) to ensure that if they feel that there are any gaps at all in our system, we will address them. There is nothing more important than safety,” Singh said. He further stated that these things are going to happen and the job of the company is to minimise that to the greatest extent possible. “That is our job and it is the regulator’s job to push us to make things better, which we will do,” he said.
He said none of the incidents that have happened in the last few weeks had anything to do with shortage of spare parts. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), in its show-cause notice, mentioned the financial audit of SpiceJet in September 2021 according to which the airline is not paying component vendors regularly and that has led to a shortage of spare parts.
“This is an audit that they are referring to from last year (September 2021) that they had done. The aviation sector has been under a great deal of (financial) stress. That does not mean that there can be any compromise on safety,” he explained. “All vendors that are relevant to anything related to safety or spare parts are always paid or settlements are reached with them. There is no failure here,” Singh added.
#SpiceJetStatement: SpiceJet is in receipt of the DGCA notice and will be responding within the specified time period. We are committed to ensuring a safe operation for our passengers and crew. >>
— SpiceJet (@flyspicejet) July 6, 2022
He said a lot of these incidents that are being reported are relatively minor in nature and happen to every airline. “This is nothing unique,” he added. When you have thousands of flights, sometimes the air conditioning will fail, sometimes a bird will hit the plane, and sometimes a fuel indicator will light up, the airline’s CMD explained.
Asked what changes SpiceJet will now undertake to deal with the safety concerns, Singh said, “We have to be doubly careful. We will rigorously inspect aircraft when they leave for a flight, which we already do, but we will strengthen the inspection.”
On the point that the DGCA is showing concern now because the incidents have happened in a short period, he said, “As an airline, we have to look into the average number of incidents that are happening every month.”
“Then you have to take out the incidents that are happening due to external circumstances such as bird hit, and then analyse the remaining the other incidents,” Singh noted. “It seems to us that there is no particular increase in those (other incidents) if you look at the monthly data, which we have done, for the last two years,” he said.
According to Singh, in general, incidents have shown a declining trend, but of late, there has been much more publicity around these incidents. “The media is well within its right to publicise but please be aware that every airline is having incidents. Every airline reports incidents on a daily basis,” he said.
“When you have a few thousand flights every day, there are going to be some incidents and every airline is going to have them,” the SpiceJet CMD noted. He said SpiceJet has asked the DGCA to take a look into the working of the airline because the processes that it follows have been audited several times by the regulator and in the 15 years that SpiceJet has flown, there has been nothing significant that has really transpired on its aircraft.
He said, “We will make any change or modification that we think might be even more effective to run even a safer operation. That is a continuous process. That is nothing to do with what has transpired in the last few days.”
In its show-cause notice to SpiceJet, the DGCA said the airline has failed to “establish safe, efficient and reliable air services” under the terms of Rule 134 and Schedule XI of the Aircraft Rules, 1937.
On Tuesday, the airline’s Delhi-Dubai flight was diverted to Karachi due to a malfunctioning fuel indicator and its Kandla-Mumbai flight did priority landing in Maharashtra’s capital city after cracks developed on its windshield mid-air.
In another incident on Tuesday, a SpiceJet freighter aircraft, which was heading to Chongqing in China, returned to Kolkata as the pilots realised after the take-off that its weather radar was not working.
The airline has been making losses for the last three years. It incurred a net loss of Rs 316 crore, Rs 934 crore and Rs 998 crore in 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21 respectively.
With PTI inputs