There's no saving Biman from itself
How long will Biman Bangladesh Airlines enjoy the impunity that it does while continuing to engage in one egregious incident after another? It pains us to revisit this topic every other week or so, but Biman's capacity to defy operational rules and standards is seemingly inexhaustible. Forget individual cases of irregularity/anomaly reported in the media. Recall the findings of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) about Biman violating procurement rules that, it said, would cause a loss of over Tk 1,000 crore in 10 years. And now another audit, by the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) no less, has spilled the beans about the true extent of Biman's problems.
To the government, official audits like these carry a far greater weight than media reports, and should thus lead to a proper response. The question is: why aren't they?
The latest findings, as per a report by The Daily Star, shed light on numerous deficiencies in Biman's policies, procedures, and operational practices, highlighting a disturbing pattern that likely goes back years, if not decades. The CAAB audit, done as part of Biman's Air Operator Certificate (AOC) renewal process, identified a staggering total of 39 operational and 10 airworthiness objections across multiple critical domains, including flight operations, cabin safety, airworthiness, ground handling, flight dispatch, and handling dangerous goods. Such wide-ranging objections truly boggle the mind. Clearly, what we are witnessing are not isolated incidents, but deep-rooted systemic issues cutting through the whole organisation.
At the heart of this crisis are failures in policy implementation, inadequate procedures, and questionable activities. The airline's inability to ensure compliance with approved company manuals and regulatory standards speaks to its lack of accountability and effective oversight. The report also highlights severe deficiencies in Biman's human resource management. The authorisation of personnel for critical positions, such as In-flight Entertainment (IFE) and in-charge cabin safety, without proper requirements is a serious breach of safety protocols.
Perhaps most concerning is the revelation that Biman's maintenance practices are not up to par. The irregularities surrounding the Continuing Airworthiness Management Exposition (CAME) and the Boeing 737-800 aircraft maintenance highlight a disregard for the meticulous upkeep that aviation demands. Such negligence endangers not only the lives of those on board but also the reputation, if any, of a floundering public institution.
Clearly, things are not working as they should at Biman. The question is: How did an airline, injected with public funds on a regular basis, reach such a state of disarray? Biman needs a massive overhaul, and it needs it now. It also needs to be made accountable. We, therefore, urge the higher authorities to properly respond to the CAAB audit report, starting by conducting a thorough review of Biman's activities and operations and taking measures to fix all critical areas of concern.