The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix: India’s aviation regulator needs to put passenger safety first

Everything you need to know for the day (and a little more).

The Big Story: Clipped wings

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Monday ordered the grounding of 11 Airbus A320neo aircraft for recurring mechanical problems, forcing budget carrier Indigo to cancel 47 flights on various routes.

In February 2017, the European Aviation Safety Agency issued a directive on the airworthiness of certain A320neo aircraft and put in place certain operational restrictions, including a bar on flying the aircraft if both engines have already faced glitches. Indigo and GoAir, the two carriers which use the models, grounded three planes immediately after this directive was issued.

When the media at that point questioned whether the DGCA would ground the entire Pratt & Whitney-powered Airbus A320neo planes, the regulator gave a categorical no. Preliminary findings by the European Aviation Safety Agency in February 2017 had indicated that “the modified high-pressure aft tub” in the affected engines was susceptible to in-flight shut down.

What has, however, startled many is the scale of the problem involved. In the 18-month period ending September 2017, there had been 69 instances of the engine failures in Airbus A320neo planes, the Times of India reported. Three more incidents over the last month forced the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to act, the paper said.

In contrast, the Directorate General had ordered all six of Air India’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners to be grounded in 2013 after issues of battery fire cropped up. In the case of the Airbus320neo, despite knowledge of high number of in-flight engine failures, the aircraft was allowed to run, possibly because the European Aviation Safety Agency, which is the regulator for Airbus, continued to allow operations .

These technicalities aside, the whole problem needs to be looked at from the point of view of passengers. The immediate question is if the passengers who take these flights are informed about such recurring problems. Anyone who books a flight would know that such information is never part of any document that a passenger is served. This leads to the second question of whether the Directorate General of Civil Aviation is prioritising the interests of the passengers or the airline carriers. Grounding of aircraft leads to operational problems for airline carriers and given the crowded sector in India, it has an immediate effect on prices. On Tuesday, ticket prices went up 10% following the cancellation of over 40 flights.

The aircraft has a capacity of 240 passengers. When the fact that there have been 69 instances of technical glitches is taken into account, over 16,000 passengers could have taken these faulty flights in the 18 months till September, 2017. While it is a fact that none of these engine failures led to any serious accident, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation seems to be happy issuing highly technical statements rather than making it simple for a passenger to exercise an informed choice on their safety.


  1. In the Indian Express, Faizan Mustafa writes that the later Supreme Court judgement on passive euthanasia could lead to neglect of terminally ill poor patients.
  2. In an interview to The Hindu, Sri Lanka Minister Rauf Hakeem says xenophobic forces have mobilised themselves and seem to have identified a new enemy in post-war Sri Lanka 
  3. West Bengal’s initial success in introducing power reforms shows political stability is crucial for sustainable changes, says Elizabeth Chatterjee in BusinessLine


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“Teachers, however, are sceptical: they point out that using Aadhaar to identify “ghost teachers” will make little difference because teachers cannot moonlight for other institutions without the “connivance of authorities” – principals, owners and the local administration. If those in authority allow the practice of moonlighting to continue, a teacher at IIT Delhi argued, there is little Aadhaar can do about it.” 

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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.


Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.