File photo. Photograph:( Others )
In a move that may impact the operations of no-frill carriers IndiGo and GoAir which operate the A-320 neo planes, the Delhi High Court today directed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to state on affidavit that the remaining fleet of aircraft of this model, which have not yet been grounded, were safe and airworthy.
According to aviation regulator DGCA, IndiGo and GoAir together have a total of 45 A320 neo aircraft, of which 14 have been grounded till date due to engine trouble.
The direction from a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar came on a plea which has sought the grounding of all the A320 neos till the aviation regulator certified that they are safe to fly.
The petitioner, Kerala-based lawyer Yashwanth Shenoy, told the court that in the past 18 months, there have been around 100 engine failures in these aircraft, despite which the DGCA has ordered grounding of only 14 of them while the remaining continue to ferry passengers.
He also claimed that these aircraft are not allowed in the US or the European airspace pursuant to the air worthiness directives issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
DGCA, on the other hand, opposed the petitioner's contention, saying that the engine failure problem occurred in 14 A 320 neo aircraft which had recently undergone a modification and therefore, they were grounded.
The regulator said that a conscious decision was taken to ground only the modified planes while allowing the remaining to fly.
The court observed that it was a matter of public knowledge that several A320 neos were grounded, one as recently as on March 18 and added, "Let DGCA say they are safe".
The bench issued notice to DGCA directing it to file an affidavit stating its satisfaction, according to the Aircraft Rules, regarding the safety and airworthiness of the A320 neos.
It said the affidavit should be signed by an officer not less than the rank of Joint DG and listed the matter for further hearing on April 6.
On March 16, the court had refused to grant Shenoy's main prayer to ground all the A320 neo aircraft operated by the IndiGo and GoAir.
Today, it said his petition be treated as an application in a PIL he has filed for removal of high rise buildings from around Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport on the ground that such structures are obstacles for aircraft taking off and landing at the aviation hub.