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“Government’s first duty and highest obligation is public safety.” -Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Bombay high court (HC) on 10th July, 2019 directed the Union civil aviation ministry to disclose steps it will take to ensure passenger safety and convenience, after the city airport’s main runway had to be shut for 72 hours to clear a SpiceJet aircraft that had overshot it on 1st July.

With the rising contracts concerning general aviation, coupled up with an increasing number of situations implicating and imposing liabilities upon the entities concerning the position of players in market. It has been observed, that with an increasing number of players as well as service-takers in the market, the safety protocols DO need to be evolved. Evolution being the norm of the society in this century, cannot be compromised. The concept of evolution needs to be upgraded from time to time again. With the increasing number of perpetrators in this sphere, themselves evolving, the need to enhance safety in general, would naturally-proportionally increase. In India, the onus of providing protection has been taken care by the legislature.

The primary horrors that could possibly be imposed would be regarding the ‘person’ of the entity to whom harm could possibly be inflicted.

The Anti-Hijacking Act 2016

It was passed by the Lok Sabha on 9th May 2016, giving effect to the Hague Convention of 1971 and the Beijing Protocol of 2010. The act aims at broadening the scope of the act, thus, by upgrading the 1982 act, it undergoes certain imperative changes. The prime amendments include incorporating- ‘the act of threatening to commit hijacking’ within the term ‘hijacking’. It can be concluded that It has now an offence to unlawfully and intentionally cause any person to receive a threat under circumstances that indicate that the threat is credible. The Act goes a step forward by defining the term ‘in service’. An aircraft is ‘in service’ from the beginning of the pre-flight preparation by ground personnel, or by the crew for a specific flight, until 24 hours after landing.

The new Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016 has introduced some radical changes to the legislation, but falls short on certain specifics, such as provisions for the protection of ground staff or passengers and crew. The act solely deals with the consequences of hijacking. The constant threat of ‘terror’ being inflicted upon the passengers by militant organisations raised the lawmakers to review the existing legislation towards such exigencies. The legislature felt the need to re-frame provisions relating to ‘preparedness’ as well as the procedure to be followed in cases on such events.

From a punishment perspective, the Act prescribes ‘death penalty’ where the offence results in the death of hostage or security personnel, and life imprisonment in all other cases. The Act also provides for the confiscation of movable and immovable property of a person convicted under its purview.

The global aviation safety and security standards for the aviation sector are provided by standards and recommended practices laid down by the ICAO. The ICAO puts the onus on the contracting states to devise and formulate a State Safety Programme (SSP). The programme is an integrated set of regulations and activities with the objective of improving safety. The DGCA has a responsibility for regulating aviation safety. An SSP and safety management systems (SMS) division has been established to ensure the management of the SSP and implementation of requirements of SMS by stakeholders.

The issue before the court was whether by preparing and placing a threat notice in the tissue-paper box in the Jet-Airways flight, the accused tried to unlawfully and intentionally seize control of or hijack the flight which would confirm an offence under the Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016. The court confirmed and states that such an action would raise such implications under the act and sentenced him to life imprisonment along with a fine of 5 crores.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

ICAO came into existence by virtue of the United Nations, which qualified it to exist as an independent agency. It runs with its main objective being promotion of safe and orderly development of international civil aviation throughout the world.  It also sets standards and regulations necessary for aviation safety, security, efficiency and regularity, as well as for aviation environmental protection. The Organization serves as the forum for cooperation in all fields of civil aviation among its 191 Member States and India is one of the contracting states.

Legislative Policy
Rule-making
The making, amending or repealing of
– Laws
– Regulations
– Standards
The issuance/ withdrawal of orders. Exemptions, decrees or other items.
Promotion & Education Conferences, symposia, colloquiums
Newsletters, journals, papers
Briefings
Multi-media safety products
Regulatory Oversight
– Educating for compliance
– Monitoring
– Inspection
– Audits
– Enforcement
Strategic Investments/Divestiture
– Privatize
– Commercialize
– Nationalize
– Subsidize
Authorizations (certification)
The issuance, or withholding the issuance, of certificates, licenses, permits, or other authorizing documents.
Strategic Leverage
– Public/Private
– PartnershipsIndustry
– empowerment

The body being the prime body dealing with aviation on an international scale, sets out certain collaborations with the entire aviation fraternity. This helps in creating a streamlined atmosphere with guidelines being left unfettered. This is achieved through:

  1. The development of global strategies contained in the Global Aviation Safety Plan and the Global Air Navigation Plan;
  2. The development and maintenance of Standards, Recommended Practices and Procedures applicable to international civil aviation activities which are contained in 16 Annexes and 4 PANS (Procedures for Air Navigation Services).  These standards are complemented by more than 50 Manuals and Circulars which are providing guidance on their implementation.
  3. The monitoring of safety trends and indicators.  ICAO audits the implementation of its Standard, Recommended Practices and Procedures through its Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program.  It has also developed sophisticated tools to collect and analyze a vast array of safety data which allows identifying existing and emerging risks.
  4. The implementation of targeted safety programs to address safety and infrastructure deficiencies; and
  5. An effective response to disruption of the aviation system created by natural disasters, conflicts or other causes.

International Air Transport Association (IATA)

This association composed of airlines, functioning and servicing worldwide. The association lists a vast number of airline carriers leaping 112 countries and comprising of 82% of total available seat miles air traffic. The operations it overlooks consists of:

Safety, Simplification of business and facilitating the environment and its stakeholders.

IATA has maintained a 6-point safety strategy:

  • Reduce Operational Risk

Operational risks are the primary concern of any airline. IATA works with the industry to implement safety programs that revolve around identifying and controlling these safety elements. IATA’s data-driven assessments and analysis, together with safety experts from member airlines, identify key safety issues. The following are among some of the issues currently being addressed to improve safety in aviation including:

Cabin Safety: Safety of passengers by non-obstruction Loss of control In-flight : Focusing on controlled flight
Runway Safety & Mid-air collision Fatigue
  •  Enhance Quality and Compliance

Another cornerstone of the approach to enhance aviation safety is the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), an internationally recognized program that is implemented consistently throughout the industry. The revised Six-Point Safety Strategy also covers Oversight​ of Third-Party Service Providers in conformity with ICAO Safety Management System (SMS) framework requirements. IMX (Integrated Management Solutions) is a tool that provides an efficient and cost-effective solution to manage the collection and processing of your Quality and Safety data and information as part of your SDCPS (Safety Data Collection & Processing System).

  •  Advocate for Improved Aviation Infrastructure

IATA continuously promote improved ATM infrastructure related to:

  • Phasing out Non-Directional Beacon (NDB) / VHF Omnidirectional Range (VOR) approaches and accelerating the implementation of approaches with vertical guidance (APV)
  • Airport (runway & ramp infrastructure)
  • Air Navigation harmonization and standardization 
  •  Support Consistent Implementation of Safety Management System

Industry has been implementing the Safety Management System (SMS) framework elements for several years. IATA supports consistent implementation of SMS in:

  • Safety performance monitoring
  • Analysis and dissemination of information
  • Safety promotion and facilitation
  •  Support Effective Recruitment and Training

Our support for industry career development and recruitment include:

  • IATA Training and Licensing  
  • Air Traffic Control (ATC) Next Generation of Aviation Professionals (NGAP)
  • Ground Handling Agents (GHA)
  • Classroom and in-company training courses 
  • Identify and Address Emerging Safety Issues

The Strategy comprises of identifying and addressing safety issues related to:

  • Lithium Battery regulations
  • Passenger awareness of Portable Electronic Devices
  • Safe Integration of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)
  • GNSS signal interference – GNSS jamming and Space weather & Laser attacks

Conclusion

These organizations through policies drawn by them, enforce a design in the atmosphere surrounding aviation. These govern safety and ensure the passengers to fly, immune from the worries of aviation. The policies are formulated keeping in mind passenger safety at all levels. Therefore, aims at matching the fast-paced growth of the aviation industry by enforcing amendments from time to time.

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