Air India receives DGCA notice after passenger dies

| Updated: 17 February, 2024 3:38 pm IST

NEW DELHI: Air India finds itself under the spotlight as the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued a show-cause notice following the unfortunate demise of an 80-year-old passenger onboard one of its flights. B L Patel tragically passed away from a heart attack after allegedly not being provided with wheelchair assistance upon disembarkation from Air India’s AI-116 flight originating from New York.

The incident, which occurred on Monday morning, has prompted the DGCA to direct Air India to submit a detailed report within seven days. Patel and his wife, Narmadaben Patel, 76, both requested wheelchair assistance upon arrival at Mumbai airport. However, according to Air India, Patel opted to walk alongside his wife after being informed of a shortage of wheelchairs.

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Unfortunately, Patel collapsed near the airport health officer’s office during the immigration process and was subsequently rushed to Nanavati Hospital in Vile Parle West, where he was declared deceased.

The DGCA’s notice cites non-compliance with civil aviation requirements provisions and a violation of Aircraft Rules, 1937, specifically referencing Para 4.1.7 of the Civil Aviation Regulation (CAR), which mandates airlines to provide comprehensive assistance to passengers requiring such support.

According to media reports, despite there being 32 wheelchair passengers on the flight, there were only 15 wheelchairs and accompanying staff available on the ground, highlighting a significant shortage. The airline attributed this shortage to the reduction in ground staff, a cost-cutting measure adopted by many airlines.

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Responding to the incident, an Air India spokesperson expressed regret, stating, “In an unfortunate incident, one of our guests flying from New York to Mumbai on February 12 fell ill while proceeding to clear immigration with his wife, who was in a wheelchair.” The spokesperson added, “Air India is in constant touch with the family members of the bereaved, extending necessary assistance.”

The DGCA has not only issued a notice to Air India but has also advised all airlines to ensure an adequate supply of wheelchairs for passengers requiring assistance during embarkation or disembarkation.

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