Foggy Delhi: DGCA slams Air India and SpiceJet for using untrained pilots, causing flight diversions

Air India - spicejet

New Delhi: The capital city of India is experiencing heavy fog these days, which poses a serious challenge for air travel. Pilots need to be specially trained and certified to fly and land aircraft in low visibility conditions, otherwise they risk endangering the lives of passengers and crew. However, two major airlines, Air India and SpiceJet, have been found guilty of violating this safety norm by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the regulatory body for civil aviation in India.

The DGCA has issued show cause notices to both airlines for deploying pilots who were not trained or authorized to operate in low visibility conditions at Delhi airport. This irresponsible act resulted in many flights being diverted to other airports instead of landing in Delhi. A senior DGCA official confirmed that the notices were sent to both the airlines and they have been given 15 days to respond. The official said that the action was taken after receiving reports of a large number of flight diversions at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) due to fog.

According to the official, more than 50 flights were diverted at IGIA between the midnight of 24–25 and 27–28 December due to poor visibility caused by fog. The official said that the DGCA monitors the flight operations at IGIA closely and ensures that only trained and qualified pilots are allowed to fly in low visibility conditions. The official warned that any violation of this rule would invite strict action from the DGCA.

The fog situation in Delhi has been severe in the past few days, affecting the normal functioning of the airport. On December 26, the visibility at IGIA dropped to as low as 50 meters, which is considered as zero visibility. There was a slight improvement in visibility at 8.30 am when it rose to 75 meters, but it soon fell back to 50 meters. The airport authorities issued an advisory to the passengers, stating that while landings and take-offs were continuing at IGIA, some flights may be delayed or canceled due to the fog. The passengers were requested to contact their respective airlines for flight updates.

Air India - spicejet

The airport authorities have also installed an anti-fog landing system, technically called CAT-III Instrument Landing System (ILS), which helps the pilots to land the aircraft precisely even when the visibility level on the runway is low. However, this system can only be used by pilots who have been trained and certified for it. The DGCA official said that the CAT-III ILS system is operational at IGIA and the pilots who are not trained for it should not attempt to use it. The official said that the DGCA is committed to ensuring the safety and security of the passengers and the crew and will not tolerate any negligence or violation of the rules by the airlines.