Conditions ripe for runway excursions in India

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by Neelam Mathews Jul 3, 2019 – 2:51 PM

With the South Asian monsoons in full swing and runway excursions becoming more common in India, safety experts have voiced concerns that Indian carriers need to review standard operating procedures known to help facilitate safe approaches and landings. In just the past 72 hours, operators have suffered four excursions, leading the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to issue an air safety circular urging precautions and a need for pilots “to refrain from landing with an unstabilized approach while experiencing adverse weather conditions and initiate a go-around.”

The DGCA also has asked airlines to use experienced crew members and ensure rostering considers the fatigue factor.

Low training standards and poor runway conditions in India often lead to excursions, Amit Singh, the former head of operations and safety for Air Asia India, told AIN. “These issues are typical to India because the world has moved on to competency-/evidence-based training, whereas we haven’t changed our methodology of prescriptive training,” he said.

Operational pressures at airlines often lead to instructors covering too many training items in too little time, yielding various shortcomings, some as basic as flight safety concepts and threats, explained Singh. “DGCA has inspectors who have no training experience but are required to check other airlines’ trainers so training cannot be improved,” he said. “There are no experts in human factors as required by ICAO. Investigation reports reveal what happened but most often do not reveal why it happened. Therefore the root cause is not known. We address the symptom and not the cause.”

Meanwhile, poor drainage at Indian airports results in standing water on runways, challenging even the best-trained pilots. “There is a need for grooved runways which enhance braking action,” adds Singh. “None of this has been addressed as yet.”

 

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