According to sources, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is looking into the situation after a two-person inspection team discovered gaps in Air India’s internal safety audits. All airlines are subject to recurring safety checks by authorities and other organizations, according to an Air India representative when reached for comment. In a statement, the spokesman stated that “Air India actively engages in such audits to continually assess and strengthen our processes” and noted that the airline proactively handles any issues raised with the relevant authority.
Based to the report of inspection provided to the DGCA, the airline was required to conduct routine safety spot checks in a number of operational areas, including cabin surveillance, cargo, ramp, and load. However, the team discovered that the airline had prepared false reports in each of the 13 cases when they randomly examined 13 safety points. “Moreover, when cross-verified with CCTV, recordings, auditee statements, shift register documents, GD (General Declaration) list, passenger manifest, etc., it is understood that all of the aforementioned 13 spot checks shown to have been performed in stations Mumbai, Goa, and Delhi were verified and were established to have not actually been performed,” the two-member team wrote in the “Deficiency Reporting Form” (DRF).
According to the inspection, these reports “were later prepared or falsified when required by the DGCA team.” Additionally, it was noted in the inspection report that the Chief of Flight Safety (CFS), who is authorized to sign these spot-check reports, did not sign the falsified ones. The problem is being looked into by the regulator, according to DGCA Director General Vikram Dev Dutt when he was contacted. The inspection report states that a Quality Management System (QMS) Department auditor physically signed the checklists. The QMS Department does not fall under the approval and inspection purview of the DGCA and has different eligibility requirements/qualification industry norms. According to the inspection report, the team was unable to locate any documented correspondence regarding the delegation of authority to the auditor. It added that there were no email exchanges or authorizations from the CFS for the aforementioned sport inspections, except from verbal confirmation. According to the review report, Air India claimed to have conducted a spot check for the Pre-Flight Medical Examination (a pilot’s alcohol consumption test), but the team discovered that the airline’s internal auditor had not physically visited the facility, which is required to satisfy many items on the checklist. Additionally, the checklist does not include information about the test results or the equipment details. Without conducting a spot check, just all the points have been recorded as satisfactory, it stated.
The inspection team discovered that although the name of a person was listed on the airline’s spot check list as the duty officer for ramp services, the individual was not present during the specified shift. Additionally, the auditee department has certified that there were no spot checks performed in the mentioned region on the relevant date. Simply, all of the points have been deemed satisfactory without conducting the actual spot check,” it stated. The inspection team discovered that although the airline had claimed to have performed a spot check in cabin surveillance on July 16, 2023, it had not been done and “the claimed auditor was merely traveling in the said flight as a passenger with family members.” The inspection team also claimed that the airline was unable to deliver the list of flight safety auditors on time. “Therefore, the list was only presented at the conclusion of the inspection and included the auditors of QMS as well, whose qualifications/eligibility varied from those outlined in the FSM (Flight Safety Manual). The CAR (Civil Aviation Requirements) doesn’t specify the credentials of the QMS auditors since the QMS does not fall under the purview of the DGCA, the team claimed. It was also noted that when the inspection team asked the operator for a list of the genuine flight safety auditors and their authorizations to distinguish them from the QMS auditors, the operator was unable to do so. All aviation businesses, including Air India, are regularly subject to safety assessments by authorities both in India and abroad. As part of our ongoing efforts to evaluate and improve our procedures, Air India actively participates in these audits. In the statement, the spokeswoman for Air India added, “We directly handle any issues raised with the relevant authority.