DGCA issues show-cause notice to Air India over passenger’s death due to wheelchair unavailability

The airport doctor in Mumbai was summoned, and the passenger was swiftly transported to Nanavati Hospital in a MIAL Ambulance. Regrettably, the medical professionals at Nanavati Hospital confirmed that Mr. Patel did not survive.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued a show-cause notice to Air India following the death of a passenger due to the unavailability of a wheelchair.

Air India has notified the regulator that Babu Patel passed away upon arrival of AI-116 from New York on February 12, 2024. Patel, aged 80, was accompanied by his spouse, Narmadaben Patel, aged 76. Both passengers had requested wheelchair assistance.

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Passengers were asked to wait due to a high demand for wheelchairs. Although only one was available for Mrs Patel, Mr Patel walked alongside his wife. Tragically, Mr. Patel collapsed near the APHO office.

The airport doctor in Mumbai was summoned, and the passenger was swiftly transported to Nanavati Hospital in a MIAL Ambulance. Regrettably, the medical professionals at Nanavati Hospital confirmed that Mr. Patel did not survive.

DGCA reiterated to the airline that according to the “Carriage by Air – Persons with Disability (Divyangjan) and/or Persons with Reduced Mobility” regulations, airlines are obligated to assist persons with disabilities or reduced mobility, catering to their specific needs throughout their journey from the departure terminal to the aircraft and from the aircraft to the arrival terminal exit, ensuring a seamless travel experience.

As a consequence, Air India has been served a Show Cause Notice for failing to adhere to the stipulations outlined in the aforementioned Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR), constituting a violation of the Aircraft Rules, 1937. The airline has been instructed to furnish a response to the DGCA within 7 days of the notice being issued.

Additionally, the DGCA has issued an advisory to all airlines, urging them to guarantee the availability of a sufficient number of wheelchairs for passengers in need of assistance during the embarkation and disembarkation processes throughout their journey. This advisory was communicated in a note released on Friday by the regulator.

It is imperative that airlines prioritize the provision of necessary facilities, such as wheelchairs, to ensure the safety and well-being of all passengers, and prevent such tragic incidents from occurring in the future.