Year 2012 was a turbulent one for the country’s civil aviation sector as several cash-strapped airlines struggled to keep their operations afloat. Air India, which has been facing a grave financial crisis for the past few years, saw several disruptions in its operations as its pilots went on a 58-day strike, protesting against the plan to train erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots to fly Dreamliners.
The 58-day strike was one of the longest in the national carrier’s history during which the Air India Pilots Union and the Indian Pilots’ Guild were derecognised. The strike also forced the airline to cut down its international schedules.
Another debt-ridden carrier Kingfisher Airlines, which was the second-largest carrier in 2011, saw the worst in 2012 as the airline’s scheduled operator’s permit was suspended by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Kingfisher Airlines’ license will stand suspended unit it submits a concrete revival plan to the satisfaction of the regulator.
Prior to the suspension of its license, the airline had declared a partial lock-out as its employees went on strike protesting against non-payment of salaries. Also, the airlines’ license is due to expire on December 31.
Amid the negatives surrounding the India aviation sector, the year also a saw a few positives like the government giving the nod to liberalise Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the aviation sector by allowing foreign airlines to buy stakes of up to 49% in local carriers. Another moment to cherish was the starting of Dreamliner flight service by Air India on a few routes. Air India will be inducting 27 Dreamliners.
The country’s space sector saw itself embroiled in of its biggest controversies since the infamous spy case. The Department of Space had imposed a ban on former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair and three former ISRO officials from holding any government jobs.
Two committees set up by the government to probe the ISRO-Devas Multimedia deal had found several lapses of judgment on the part of Nair and his former colleagues while executing the controversial deal, stating that it was heavily loaded in favour of Devas.
Following the ban, Nair hit back at his successor K Radhakrishnan and charged him of witch-hunting. Several former scientists criticised the government for its action against Nair stating that it was demoralising ISRO’s scientific community. The year also saw ISRO launching its historic 100th mission when the home grown PSLV launched the French SPOT-6 and Japanese Protiers satellites from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in September.
Sixty-two satellites, 37 launch vehicles and one capsule recovery experiment by ISRO have resulted in 100 missions in the last 50 years. The space agency’s first launch was the Aryabhata satellite in 1974. India’s ambitious Mars Orbiter Mission also received the green signal from the government when prime minister Manmohan Singh made a formal announcement on the same during his Independence Day address.
The Rs450 crore Mars Mission will be launched next November.
Ups & Downs of space & aviation in 2012
March 7: IATA suspends Kingfisher airlines for non-payment of dues
March 27: Kingfisher airlines suspend operations from Kolkata and Hyderabad.
May 7: Air India pilots go on strike protesting against the plan to train erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots to fly Dreamliners
July 4: Air India pilots call of 58 day strike.
July 10: EK Bharat Bushan removed as DGCA Chief.
September 14: Government allows foreign airlines to pick up 49% stake in private airlines.
September 19: Air India commences Dreamliner fight operations.
October 1: Kingfisher airlines declares partial lockout as employees don’t turn up for work.
October 20: DGCA suspends Kingfisher airlines scheduled operator’s permit.
October 25: Kingfisher airlines employees call of strike.
January 13: Department of Space bans former ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair from holding government posts.
April 26: ISRO launches Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT- 1).
August 15: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announces India’s Mars Mission.
September 9: ISRO successfully launches its historic 100th mission
September 21: Major security breach at ISRO woman posing as ISRO Scientist stays at its guest house and later arrested while entering the space agency’s headquarters.
A senior ISRO Official said that Buela M Sam while entering the Antariksh Bhavan, New BEL Road on September 21
September 29: India’s heaviest communication satellite GSAT-10 launched by Ariane-5 rocket.