The recent installation of state-of-art equipment at airports might make travellers assume their travel is safer but Airport Authority Officers' Association (AAOA) says this far from reality.
In a frightening insight, in a letter written to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju, AAOA has alleged that airport authorities are putting passengers' lives at risk by providing incomplete training to air traffic management personnel.
The letter written by YP Gautam, general secretary, AAOA, states, "Instead of taking initiatives for training/ proficiency examination for the new equipment, our officers are forced to accept familiarisation training of five days which Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) would never agree to". DGCA is the regulatory body for aviation in India and lays down rules and policies for operation and safety.
Raju remained unavailable for comment and GS Bawa, a spokesperson for Airport Authority of India (AAI), which is responsible for training and air traffic operations in India, did not respond to the calls made by dna on Wednesday.
Major airports in the country including Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) in Mumbai have in the past year been upgraded with latest state-of-art technologies. Some of the important equipment includes air traffic service-data link net (ATS-DLN) which enables pilots to use data link instead of voice, automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B). ADS-B helps other air-crafts in the airspace and air traffic controllers to know a flight's precise position without need of radar. Also, a new radar has been placed at CSIA recently.
Elaborating on the issue, a senior official from Air Traffic Management (ATM) in Mumbai reveals, "If the rules demand four weeks of training on the new equipment followed by a written, viva (oral) and practical tests for the air traffic management officers, the management tries to wrap up the things within five-six days and sends us to handle the operations unprepared."
"This is mockery of the DGCA and ICAO guidelines putting the aircraft and passenger safety at risk" said another ATM official.
The sources within AAI claims that though there are plenty of problems, which is restricting the training/ proficiency programmes for the ATM personnel, the most noteworthy is shortage of manpower. "The shortage of manpower does not allow for long training sessions, otherwise the daily operations of flights can get affected".