DGCA Issues Show Cause Notice To Air India Over 80-Year-Old’s Death Due To Wheelchair Shortage

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After an 80-year-old customer died at Mumbai airport from walking because there weren’t enough wheelchairs available, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday issued a show-cause notice to Air India.

Eighty-year-old Babu Patel and his seventy-six-year-old wife, Narmadaben Patel, reportedly asked for wheelchair help when they got off Air India’s AI-116 flight from New York. Air India said in a statement on February 16 that it had asked the husband to wait since there weren’t enough wheelchairs available. Still, he decided to walk beside his wife without assistance.

During the immigration procedure at the Mumbai airport, he passed out close to the office of the airport health officer.

“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,” said the airline.

The airline reported that the passenger was taken to the hospital right away after falling ill, as instructed by the airport physician tending to him. There, it was announced that the passenger had passed away.

Wheelchair assistance is just a service provided by the airline, according to a representative of MIAL, the operator of the Mumbai airport.

Air India has received a show-cause notice from the DGCA for violating the 1937 Aircraft Rules and failing to comply with civil aviation rules. Under CAR Para 4.1.7, airlines are required to offer these customers full assistance, guaranteeing a smooth journey from the terminal of departure to the aircraft and back again upon arrival.

Seven days have been granted to Air India to reply to the notification and provide an explanation for why it did not follow the rules.

To stop similar accidents in the future, the DGCA has also sent out more general advice to all airlines, asking them to make sure there are enough wheelchairs available to help passengers during the embarkation and disembarkation processes.