ICAO's revelation sheds light on SpiceJet's cooked-up audit story
Earlier this month, budget carrier SpiceJet claimed that it passed an audit conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) with flying colors. Now, the latter has refuted the airline's claim saying it never audits any airline or airport in any country. To recall, SpiceJet has been under the Directorate General of Civil Aviation's (DGCA) 'enhanced surveillance' since July.
Why does this story matter?
- Was SpiceJet's claim about an ICAO audit a desperate attempt by a struggling airline to get back on its feet? If so, why didn't anyone call out the airline when it made such a false claim?
- Many questions will be asked after ICAO's revelation that it did not audit the carrier, which has been marred by technical glitches and rule violations.
What does ICAO do?
ICAO is a specialized agency affiliated with the United Nations. It is entrusted with setting standards and regulations necessary for aviation safety, security, efficiency, and regularity. Its mandate includes auditing its member states to determine their aviation safety and aviation security oversight capacities. As part of this, the agency visits different airlines and airports. However, they are not audits.
What did SpiceJet say?
Earlier this month, SpiceJet said that it underwent an audit by ICAO during the agency's audit of India's aviation safety oversight mechanism. In a statement, the airline said that the ICAO audit establishes its credentials as a "safe airline." "We are proud that SpiceJet was the only scheduled Indian airline to undergo validation checks by ICAO in this audit," said Ajay Singh, SpiceJet CMD.
Visits to operators are not an audit or inspection: ICAO
From November 9-16, ICAO had conducted an ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM) to the DGCA to find out the progress in addressing last year's Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program (USOAP). The agency said, "this will include visits to multiple operators. ICAO wishes to clarify that visits to these operators are not an audit or inspection at all."
Audits don't cover airlines, airports, or other industry operators
ICAO reiterated that the audits do not cover airlines, airports, or other industry operators. The international organization did not specifically mention SpiceJet's name, but it is clear that the statement was targeted at the airline for spreading false information.