Indian aviation to have latest safety management system

By Varada Bhat, IANS

Mumbai : Indian aviation is likely to adopt the internationally mandated Safety Management System (SMS) to mitigate risk and attain optimal operational safety by early 2009, said a top official.

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“By January 2009, it will be mandatory for all existing airlines and upcoming ones to adopt SMS. It will be applicable to everyone,” Kanu Gohain, director general of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), told IANS.

All national aviation regulatory bodies worldwide are currently implementing the system, introduced by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Once the system is in place in India, airlines, airports and other players in the aviation industry will be required to follow a rigorous and comprehensive documentation and monitoring system.

In the case of airports, rules like those pertaining to runway inspection and runway friction level guarantee will have to be stringently executed and documented.

“While we are upgrading the terminals here, every thing is done in according to DGCA guidelines and their requirements. We are working together on this even from allocation of bays to aircraft,” said a spokesperson of the Delhi International Airport Pvt Ltd, a GMR-Fraport consortium that is modernising and expanding the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

The DGCA has said it will be monitoring the process and may hold unannounced inspections to check SMS implementation at airports across the country.

Despite the inevitable financial repercussions, the aviation industry has welcomed the move.

Naveen Chawla, India regional manager of Qatar Airways, said: “The current endeavour of DGCA will ensure strict enforcement of safety regulations. ”

He added that although SMS would increase expenditure for airlines, in the long run maintaining safety standards would add to the business and instil passenger confidence.

President of the Air India Aircraft Engineers Association T.K. Dhar told IANS: “The expenditure for implementing SMS will be a one-time investment. Training the staff, documenting the methods adopted, supervising the efforts, etc. will definitely contribute to the airline’s image and eventually, augment revenue.”