One of the little-known facts of the aviation industry is that only 8 of the over 50 operating airports of India..." />
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Over 40 airports running without a safety licence

Mangalore Today News Network

June 25: One of the little-known facts of the aviation industry is that only 8 of the over 50 operating airports of India have the Director General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) mandatory licenses.

International Airport


Some of the airports operating without a license are Madurai, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, and Thiruvananthapuram. The license of even the Mangalore International Airport at Bajpe has expired. At the time of the tragic crash of May 22, which claimed 158 innocent lives, the Mangalore International Airport had a provisional license, which expired on June 15.

An airport that operates without a license does not conform to Indian Aircraft Rules 1937 or the safety standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization. Experts say that the immediate fallout is that insurance companies will not be liable to pay compensations in case of accidents at such airports. This could prove to be very damaging for the Indian aviation industry, which already stands in threat of being downgraded from its current top billing to sub-Saharan Africa levels.

Air Safety Expert Capt. A. Ranganathan said that, as per Rule 78 of the Indian Aircraft Rules 1937, only licensed airports are permitted to operate. Operating unlicensed airports indicates that the Airport Authority of India (AAI), which owns these airports, is violating safety norms and has absolutely no respect for either the rules or the lives of its passengers.

According to the DGCA website, as updated on Dec 31, 2009, 18 private use airports and 23 public use airports had licenses. The latest list of licensed airports shows that only eight of these airports have renewed their licenses.

A DGCA-licensed airport is expected to meet several criteria such as adherence to ICAO Annex 24 safety norms. Despite the fact that the rules of 1937 made it mandatory for airports to be DGCA licensed, the DGCA urged for the strict implementation of this rule only in 2006 when more and more private airports were coming up. While private airports in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi, and Kochi have licenses, a majority of the airports operated by the AAI do not have licenses.

AAI Chairman A. P. Agarwal admitted that several of its airports lack valid licenses and explained the matter by saying that these airports have applied for renewals and licenses, but owing to shortage of manpower at the AAI and the DGCA, the licenses have not be issued or renewed. He said that the DGCA and AAI will issue the required licenses within one month.

The DGCA issues licenses for 2 years and provisional licenses for 6 months. According to Section 4 of the civil aviation requirements (CAR), a public use airport must apply for license renewal two months before its license expires. Agarwal said that this rule was not followed because a majority of the airports lacked the mandatory aerodrome manual, which contains safety norms.

Captain Ranghanathan is of the opinion that the Indian government must constitute an independent regulator in place of AAI and a safety board of aviation experts, which must report directly to the prime minister. He also said that the judiciary must take action against the DGCA and the AAI for gross violation of safety norms.

Some airports without valid licences as per ICAO and Indian Aircraft Rules

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata
Trivandrum International Airport, Thiruvananthapuram
Anna International Airport, Chennai
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad
Lohegaon Airport, Pune

Airports with valid licences

Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi: Issued on April 29, 2010, valid up to May 2, 2012
B’lore International Airport: Issued on May 15, 2010, valid up to May 14, 2012
Rajiv Gandhi Int’l Airport, Hyderabad: Issued on March 4, 2010, valid up to March 3, 2012
Bhopal Airport: Issued on April 15, 2010, valid up to April 14, 2011
Kochi Airport: Issued on March 8, 2010, valid up to December 29, 2011

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