The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) conditionally reactivated Air India’s approved training organisation (ATO) licence for a 30-day period on Thursday. This reinstatement will allow the airline to resume pilots’ licence renewals and certifications at its simulators.
Last week, the regulator suspended Air India’s ATO licence, effectively suspending operations for both its simulators: the Boeing simulator in Mumbai and the Airbus simulator in Hyderabad.
This action was taken due to lapses identified during a spot check conducted by the regulator. Consequently, the certification and licence renewal processes for Air India’s pilots were suspended after DGCA’s intervention.
During the spot check, the regulator discovered that the simulator’s quality manual had expired, and there was no assigned quality control officer to oversee simulator operations.
Additionally, standard operating procedures (SOPs) for preventive maintenance checks of the simulators were found to be lacking, as noted by DGCA.
In response, Air India submitted the necessary documentation, including newly developed SOPs for preventive maintenance checks and an updated quality manual for the simulators, to DGCA.
“A conditional approval has been granted for a 30-day period following the rectification of these deficiencies. An internal audit will be conducted within this time frame, and the findings will be shared with DGCA,” stated a DGCA official.
An Air India executive informed Business Standard that the airline has already initiated its internal audit of both simulators in compliance with the regulator’s directives. The airline’s pilots have also commenced their certification and licence renewal courses using these simulators, the executive added.
Air India did not provide a formal response to queries sent by Business Standard on this matter.
The Airbus simulator in Hyderabad is primarily utilised by pilots operating the Airbus fleet, which mainly consists of narrow-body A320 planes used for short-haul flights.
The Mumbai facility is used by pilots operating the Boeing fleet, primarily composed of wide-body B777 and B787 aircraft used for long-haul international flights.
All pilots are required to undergo compulsory licence renewals every six months using a simulator. They must also complete annual certification courses, including instrument rating, ground training refresher, and aviation security, using a simulator.
Failure to undertake these certification courses and licence renewals prevents a pilot from operating a commercial flight.
As of August 1, Air India had 74 Airbus planes and 53 Boeing planes in its fleet, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium.
In February, Air India placed an order for 470 planes, with 250 from European plane maker Airbus and 220 from Boeing. This order represents the world’s second-largest single-tranche aircraft purchase.
The Boeing order includes 190 B737 MAX, 20 B787s, and 10 B777s. The Airbus firm order comprises 210 A320 family aircraft and 40 A350 planes. The A350, B777, and B787 are wide-body aircraft with larger fuel tanks, allowing them to cover long distances, such as India-North America routes.
Tata Group assumed control of Air India in January of the previous year. In 2022-23, Air India’s net loss increased by 19.16 per cent to Rs 11,387.96 crore. Last month, Air India unveiled its new logo and livery, featuring red, gold, and violet colours.