Team that nailed KFA scrapped, new team diluted findings

The beleaguered private carrier Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) may have announced a partial blackout, but the civil aviation ministry and the aviation regulator are also being criticised for the manner in which they first brushed aside serious audit objections on the carrier and later at a crucial juncture, replaced the auditing team.

In a classic case, the newly appointed DGCA recently changed the entire team, which was originally appointed to audit the airline. The officials, who had indicted KFA, in an earlier audit conducted last year, were removed from the team, in a revised order, issued by the aviation regulator. There was, however, no change in the audit teams, which were set up set up to check 49 other private carriers.

The new team made total 35 observations, in the recently concluded audit, out of which, more than 20 pertained to aviation manuals and reportedly missed out on safety and engineering issues, revealed a top DGCA official.

Arun Mishra, who took over as DGCA in July, after his predecessor EK Bharat Bhushan was unceremoniously removed, had directed to set up a new team, to audit KFA and Air India charters, against whom damaging reports were submitted earlier.

Bhushan, had approved the Regulatory Audit Programme (RAP), according to which KFA's audit was to be conducted by a team of DGCA officials headed by deputy director (operations) Suvrita Saxena.

The order, issued by Bhushan is still posted on the DGCA website, under the head, 'Surveillance Programme 2012' giving details about various RAPs - for organisations operating 10 aircraft or more, 3-9 aircraft, and less than three aircraft.

According to this order, Saxena, was the head of the team, she had earlier audited KFA and deputy director DGCA Maneesh Kumar, head of team set up to audit Air India charters.

However, the DGCA, in August, issued a revised order, and appointed deputy director (air safety) Sanjay Brahmane as head of the KFA auditing team and for Air India charters a new team was set up, under deputy director MJ Singh who replaced Kumar.

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