In what seems to be a measure to tighten aircraft safety norms, in December last year, the government decided to amend an eight decade old law for a 10-fold increase in penalties in light of recent incidents of technical snags reported by airlines. As per reports in the media, if the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is passed, the maximum limit of fine for breach of airline safety will increase from existing 10 lakh to 1 crore. The amendment will also allow the DGCA, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau to act swiftly against airlines for any violation of aircraft safety regulations.
The government decided to amend the law after a spike in the number of air safety violations in the recent past. The most controversial ones, involving Airbus A320neo planes fitted with Pratt and Whitney engines, could have had catastrophic consequences as many such aircraft have faced mid-air glitches. The DGCA had asked IndiGo and GoAir, who still use this version of the aircraft, to install modified engines or replace the entire fleet of such planes. The report on the government’s intention to pass a new amendment to the law towards improving flight safety norms comes a day after another mid-air scare. A Hyderabad-bound IndiGo aircraft, which took off from Delhi, returned to the national capital after its second engine suffered a technical malfunction. Despite landing safely, the episode triggered panic among passengers. There have also been many reports of planes facing other technical snags and could ultimately result in creating a sense of fear among passengers. This could be one of the reasons why the government wants to make aircraft operators more accountable.