An upcoming audit by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has compelled the Indian civil aviation ministry to seek passage for the pending Aircraft Amendment Bill. The primary objective of the Bill is to empower the existing aviation security regulator Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and as a result, further secure the Indian airports.
The civil aviation ministry has emphasised on the importance of uncompromising aviation security amid growing threats of terrorism. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association of the world’s airlines, has also highlighted the relevance of coherent co-ordination of the government and aviation agencies around the globe for communication of intelligence and information on counter measures.
In its recent inspections of the Indian airports, BCAS found a shocking number of errors in functionalities, issuing warnings to authorities, individuals and airlines. These warnings, however, seemed to fall on deaf ears as no rectification measures were taken with little to no improvements in the security systems. As per the latest BCAS data, the regulatory body held 85, 96 and 42 security drills in the airports in 2016, 2015 and 2014 respectively. In the current year, more than 50 checks have been held with little improvement in the rate of errors. These checks are carried out to assess the effectiveness and response of the security systems. In addition to the checks, BCAS also carries out drills to check the effectiveness of the emergency plans and preparedness of various agencies.
The lack of improvements and rectifications on the agencies’ side can be attributed to the fact that BCAS does not hold the power to terminate licenses of airports and airlines, and can only suspend them. Since suspension of these licences cannot be done on every single matter due to operational challenges, BCAS is not able to exercise its power to its full extent. However, the ministry has aimed to resolve the matter by seeking amendments in the existing Aircraft Act, 1934, which would enable BCAS to impose penalties and therefore, strengthening security at the airports.