After five people were killed in a plane crash in Ghatkopar in July 2018, the Indian civil aviation regulator, the DGCA, undertook an audit of Indamer Aviation Pvt Ltd, the company that had carried out repairs and maintenance of the ill-fated aircraft.
The audit then found a number of malpractices. The audit, as a routine, should have been undertaken earlier. But it took a fatal crash like incident that forced the said audit. Those malpractices were going on unabated earlier. When such malpractices came to the knowledge of DGCA, it ordered suspension of the firm’s approval.
The audit findings do not pertain to the June 28 King Air C-90 Ghatkopar crash.
But soon after the crash, on July 2, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation issued an order to audit Indamer, and the eight-day inspection carried out in July and September covered the work it undertook on other aircraft parked at its bases in Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Pune.
“Evidence of aircraft being released for flights without recording or rectifying known defects were found,” said the letter sent recently by Pawan Kumar, director of airworthiness, DGCA, to Indamer. It listed 11 audit findings of a “significant” nature.
“As a sample, 19 cases of non-recording of defects encountered by maintenance/operational personnel were evidenced,” it said.
Firm maintains private aircraft for state governments, corporates
The malpractices include carrying out major aircraft inspection checks without necessary tools and equipment, illegal cannibalisation of spare parts, use of locally-fabricated tools that haven’t been subjected to appropriate inspection or certification to carry out critical inspection of B200 aircraft and AgustaA109 helicopters.
“There are (a) number of findings, related to inadequate facilities, lack of procedures, inadequate infrastructure, non-availability of required technical manpower, nonadherence to standard procedures wherein the organisation did not satisfactorily demonstrate compliance to the applicable regulations,” the audit findings said.
On account of these malpractices, the DGCA has suspended the approval given to Indamer to carry out maintenance of aircraft like the King Air B200, Hawker 850, King Air C90 and Augusta A109 at its Mumbai base. Among the other restrictions imposed on Indamer are that it cannot sub-contract maintenance work and cannot carry out any maintenance and repair work at its Ahmedabad base.
The immediate effect of the suspension is that two King Air B200 aircraft, one belonging to the Gujarat government and the other to a construction major, are currently grounded as these were being serviced by Indamer, a source said. “Indamer’s customers who own the five aircraft types listed in the suspension order will now have to look for another DGCA-approved MRO (maintenance and repair organisation) and transfer all aircraft documents and papers to the other company. The process takes time and till then these aircraft would be grounded,” the source added.
Juhu airport-based Indamer, one of the oldest aviation companies of India, is a key player in the Indian aircraft maintenance and repair organisation sector. Indamer doesn’t count any airlines among its customers but handles repair and upkeep of 40-42% private and chartered aircraft owned by the creme de la creme of India’s corporate world and many state governments, including that of Maharashtra. Among its bosses is the son of a former civil aviation minister. A request for comment sent to the Indamer CEO got no response.