Air India was fined Rs 1.1 crore by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday for breaking safety regulations on flights conducted on specific long-haul routes that are classified as "critical" due to their topography.
The airline owned by the Tata Group has already faced criticism from the regulator for disobeying orders and regulations. Air India was fined Rs 30 lakh earlier this month for failing to roster enough pilots qualified to make low visibility (CAT-III) landings during the fog season. Major airports in India use the CAT-III instrument landing system, which enables pilots to land their aircraft in conditions as low as 50 meters of visibility. To operate this technology, though, a pilot needs to be trained. Dense fog earlier this month caused hundreds of flights nationwide to be canceled or delayed.
On Wednesday, the regulator announced that it had initiated a "comprehensive" inquiry following the receipt of a "voluntary safety report" from an Air India employee alleging "safety violations" on flights operated by the carrier on "long range terrain critical routes."
"Since the investigation prima facie revealed non-compliance by the airline, a show cause notice was issued to the accountable manager of Air India Limited," stated the statement. The response was reviewed in light of the original equipment manufacturer's (OEM) performance restrictions as well as the DGCA's established standards.
"Since the said operations of the leased aircraft were not in line with regulatory/OEM performance limits, the DGCA has initiated enforcement action and imposed a penalty of Rs 1.10 crore on Air India," it stated. The authority did not name the particular infractions that the airline had committed.
In 2023, Air India was the subject of regulatory scrutiny. The DGCA fined the airline Rs 10 lakh in November of last year for failing to reimburse customers for flights that were delayed or had seats that were unusable and for failing to provide its ground staff with the required training.
Air India's approved training organization (ATO) license was revoked by the regulator in September 2023, thereby halting operations at both of its simulators - the Boeing simulator in Mumbai and the Airbus simulator in Hyderabad. Every six months, all pilots must complete mandatory license renewals in a simulator. Additionally, they need to finish yearly certification courses in aviation security, instrument rating, and ground training refresher using a simulator.