Global aviation organisation ICAO rejects Spicejet’s audit story

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New Delhi: Days after the budget airline SpiceJet claimed that its safety processes were found to be strong during an exhaustive audit by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the UN’s civil aviation agency clarified that visits to operators are not audits.

“ICAO’s Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) team performed an ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM) to India from 9 to 16 November 2022. The objective of an ICVM is to validate progress in addressing the findings from previous USOAP activities,” said William Raillant-Clark, Communications Officer, ICAO in a tweet on December 13.

“As part of an ICVM, ICAO teams conduct industry visits to verify the effectiveness of the civil aviation authority’s safety oversight. This will include visits to multiple operators. ICAO wishes to clarify that visits to operators are not audits or inspections at all,” he added.

ICAO also commented on its twitter handle saying, “Clarifications from ICAO’s Communications Officer related to a recent ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission to India.”

Earlier, Spicejet claimed, “SpiceJet was the only scheduled Indian airline part of the audit conducted by ICAO under Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) Continuous Monitoring Approach. The audit of SpiceJet safety systems helped India achieve its highest ever safety ranking in ICAO audit.”

The airline also claimed, “On 14 November, 2022, the ICAO Auditing Committee visited the SpiceJet Head Office, from where all SpiceJet flights are controlled, and the SpiceJet flight dispatch offices at Delhi Airport. They audited and reviewed the various flight critical functions and operational areas such as flight planning, weather assessment, route planning, aircraft serviceability, operations to critical airports, pilot rostering systems, cabin safety procedures etc.

The press release also included the statement of Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet who said, A”The ICAO audit is the benchmark of safety. We are proud that our safety culture, systems, processes and operations have been found to be in order and at par with the global best practices and safety standards.”

Spicejet’s reactions on the latest development were awaited.

Earlier, following an incident of smoke in a Spicejet plane cabin, the aviation regulator DGCA had directed the airline on October 17 to send the engine oil samples of the entire Q400 fleet consisting of 14 operational aircraft to Pratt and Whitney Canada to ascertain presence of metal and carbon seat particles.

Moreover, the DGCA has also directed Spicejet for inspection of bleed-off valve screen and housing for evidence of oil wetness. DGCA had initiated a probe after a SpiceJet flight made an emergency landing at Hyderabad airport after smoke was detected in the cabin on October 12.

The regulator had said that it was keeping a close watch on the situation and will take all appropriate action to avert any untoward incident.

Tata’s Air India to buy Airbus, Boeing 500 jets in $100 billion deal

Mumbai: Air India is close to placing landmark orders for as many as 500 jetliners worth tens of billions of dollars from both Airbus and Boeing as it carves out an ambitious renaissance under the Tata Group conglomerate, industry sources said.

The orders include as many as 400 narrow-body jets and 100 or more wide-bodies, including dozens of Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s and 777s, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity as finishing touches are placed on the mammoth deal in coming days.

Such a deal could top $100 billion dollars at list prices, including any options, and rank among the biggest by a single airline in volume terms, overshadowing a combined order for 460 Airbus and Boeing jets from American Airlines over a decade ago. 

Even after significant expected discounts, the deal would be worth tens of billions of dollars and cap a volatile year for plane giants whose jets are again in demand after the pandemic, but who face mounting industrial and environmental pressures.

It would also allow Airbus to secure a home for some A350 production slots initially earmarked for Russia’s Aeroflot and now left open because of war-related sanctions against Moscow.

Airbus and Boeing declined to comment. Tata Group-owned Air India did not respond to a request for comment.

China last week delivered its first C919 jetliner but is at least a decade away from competing on such a scale, experts say.

Image courtesy of (File photo)

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