:  The Directorate General of Civil Aviation ( DGCA) has enhanced scrutiny of airport ground handling agencies to prevent incidents and improve overall aviation safety. DGCA on Wednesday said it has issued rules for ground handlers which will standardise requirements and increase regulatory oversight. Ground handling covers various functions within terminal and on airside such as passenger check-in, baggage handling, aircraft cabin cleaning, pushback services and so on. The rules specify  the training and competency requirements of ground personnel who play a pivotal role in safe and efficient ground operations at the airports. Ground handling agencies have been given six months to comply with the provisions of this regulations.

What IATA says

According to International Air Transport Association ground handling errors can have serious and costly consequences, including injuries, operational delays, as well as aircraft and equipment damage. According to IATA’s global estimates the annual cost of ground damage could double to nearly $10 billion by 2035 unless preventive actions are taken. “The robust safety mechanism to be implemented prospectively by ground handling service providers would help in prevention and mitigation of ground incidents at the airport thereby enhancing the quality of services rendered in safety sensitive functions,” DGCA said in a statement.

Welcoming the DGCA move, Celebi Aviation’s India CEO Murali Ramachandran said this is a good move to standardise services. The rules require alignment of documentation, operational SOPs, training,  equipment and manpower for safe operations and to reduce incidents. “However, the requirements mentioned can be fulfilled by organised ground handlers. The smaller ones may face difficulties in complying with some of the requirements. The time-line for implementation may be increased a bit,” Ramachandran said.