ICAO rejects Spicejet’s audit story

Days after the budget airline SpiceJet claimed that its safety processes were found to be strong during an exhaustive audit by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the UN’s civil aviation agency clarified that visits to operators are not audits.

“ICAO’s Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) team performed an ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM) to India from 9 to 16 November 2022. The objective of an ICVM is to validate progress in addressing the findings from previous USOAP activities,” said William Raillant-Clark, Communications Officer, ICAO in a tweet on December 13.

“As part of an ICVM, ICAO teams conduct industry visits to verify the effectiveness of the civil aviation authority’s safety oversight. This will include visits to multiple operators. ICAO wishes to clarify that visits to operators are not audits or inspections at all,” he added.

ICAO also commented on its twitter handle saying, “Clarifications from ICAO’s Communications Officer related to a recent ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission to India.”

Earlier, in its press release on December 5, Spicejet claimed, “SpiceJet was the only scheduled Indian airline part of the audit conducted by ICAO under Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) Continuous Monitoring Approach. The audit of SpiceJet safety systems helped India achieve its highest ever safety ranking in ICAO audit.”

The airline also claimed, “On 14 November, 2022, the ICAO Auditing Committee visited the SpiceJet Head Office, from where all SpiceJet flights are controlled, and the SpiceJet flight dispatch offices at Delhi Airport. They audited and reviewed the various flight critical functions and operational areas such as flight planning, weather assessment, route planning, aircraft serviceability, operations to critical airports, pilot rostering systems, cabin safety procedures etc.

The press release also included the statement of Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet who said, A”The ICAO audit is the benchmark of safety. We are proud that our safety culture, systems, processes and operations have been found to be in order and at par with the global best practices and safety standards.”

Spicejet’s reactions on the latest development on Wednesday were awaited.

Under the International Civil Aviation Organisation,Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) Continuous Monitoring Approach, anAICAO Coordinated Validation MissionA(ICVM)Awas undertaken from 9th to 16th November, 2022.

The audit was conducted in the areas of – Legislation, Organization, Personal Licensing, Operations, Airworthiness and Aerodromes.

Thereafter, recording a significant jump, Indian aviation safety oversight mechanism marked the 48th spot in the world and it was a quantum leap from its 102nd rank four years ago.

ICAO’s Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) focuses on a State’s capability in providing safety oversight by assessing whether the State has implemented the critical elements of a safety oversight system effectively and consistently. This enables the State to ensure the implementation of ICAO’s safety-related Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and associated procedures and guidance material. In addition, it provides ICAO with a means to continuously monitor the States’ fulfilment of their safety oversight obligations.

Earlier, following an incident of smoke in a Spicejet plane cabin, the aviation regulator DGCA had directed the airline on October 17 to send the engine oil samples of the entire Q400 fleet consisting of 14 operational aircraft to Pratt and Whitney Canada to ascertain presence of metal and carbon seat particles.

Moreover, the DGCA has also directed Spicejet for inspection of bleed-off valve screen and housing for evidence of oil wetness. DGCA had initiated a probe after a SpiceJet flight made an emergency landing atAHyderabad airport after smoke was detected in the cabin on October 12.

The regulator had said that it was keeping a close watch on the situation and will take all appropriate action to avert any untoward incident.

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