Aviation safety in India

Aviation safety, like other branches of safety, has a public perception greatly dependent on what the general public thinks. This in turn largely depends on what the mass media decides to project. The current year has had two particularly tragic and peculiar incidents in MH 370 and MH 17, which may lead one to think that things are becoming worse. Not really. Improvements in technology in aircraft and communications technology have made things much safer than before. But there are always going to be saboteurs and plain incompetence of individuals in the system.

Let’s take a closer look at India. There was a time until around the mid-80s when there was at least one crash of an Indian airliner every year. Indian Airlines was rated among one of the world’s most unsafe airlines. But there was no fatal crash of any Indian commercial airliner between June 2000 and May 2010-which is particularly creditable as this period marked the expansion of many of today’s private airlines (admittedly aided by more modern aircraft).

Military aviation safety in India is another matter. Anyone wanting to make a serious study of this topic will end up having to depend on media reports of accidents. At least the DGCA is now giving more details of accidents on their website. Summaries going back to 1960 are here:  http://www.dgca.nic.in/aircraft/acc-ind.htm

and more detailed reports of accidents and incidents since 2008 are also there (click on Reports rather than Summaries).

Rather interestingly, the detailed report of the 2010 crash at Mangalore is now password protected-although it was not protected for several months. You can still find a cache somewhere on the net via Google. If that sounds like too much trouble, there is a reasonable summary of this and many other accidents on Wikipedia. Most (but not all) significant accidents are covered. In this particular case we have: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_India_Express_Flight_812

Next I will be covering a few major Indian aviation accidents from 1978 to 2010 to illustrate what can go wrong.