UN body finds “serious” safety concern in India’s civil aviation sector, ministry worried
A UN body which audited India’s civil aviation sector found an acute shortage of air traffic controllers, a finding which has the civil aviation ministry worried.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) completed its audit last week and is likely to call this finding a “serious safety concern” in its report.
On December 3, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said that nearly 1,600 posts of air traffic controllers are vacant at different airports in the country.
The ICAO’s audit has got the ministry worried. "If the ICAO audit red-flags the shortage of ATCOs, then other aviation agencies -- notably the FAA -- could also issue their own alerts or want to conduct their own audits. It could open the Pandora's Box for us and technically pave the way for yet another safety downgrade for Indian aviation, something that will have a tremendous impact for Indian airlines," an official told Times of India.
Earlier, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had downgraded India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in January 2014 due to its poor oversight capability of aviation caused by the lack of technical manpower.
However, in April 2015 the US agency reversed the downgradation after India took steps to make amends.
On the positive side, a senior AAI official told TOI, “For many years no hiring of controllers took place that led to the current situation. Now AAI has inducted 200 ATCO and will conduct exam for hiring another 400 more on December 29 and has started the process of hiring 200 more. By next March we will have 600 more ATCOs and then 200 additional will join a few months later."