Civil Aviation Authority in the offing
New Delhi: The process of setting up an autonomous Civil Aviation Authority to regulate all aviation safety issues in India is in the final stages with a cabinet note on it likely to be finalised soon.
The proposed CAA, which would have administrative and financial autonomy, is also likely to keep a tab on the entire range of activities — from proper provision of air traffic services and licensing to financial fitness of airlines.
"A cabinet note is being prepared. We have sent all the facts. The (Civil Aviation) Ministry will have to forward it to the government," Director General of Civil Aviation E K Bharat Bhushan told PTI here.
Government plans to bring in a legislation to establish the CAA. Bhushan said the CAA would have a "lot of financial, administrative and procedural independence. We will be able to recruit (professionals) directly" instead of routing it through the Union Public Service Commission.
A feasibility study to set up the Authority was commissioned in October 2009 in technical cooperation with the UN body International Civil Aviation Organisation to improve financial and administrative autonomy for discharge of safety oversight functions more effectively.
The ICAO feasibility study was reviewed by the DGCA and the Civil Aviation Ministry last year. The proposal was also endorsed by the US Federal Aviation Administration which said the proposed body would be in line with ICAO policy.
Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi recently said that the process to set up the CAA was currently on.
The CAA structure of an aviation regulatory body exists in several countries including the UK and Singapore, giving it powers to regulate all safety issues, advising the government on all civil aviation matters, managing national airspace so as to meet the needs of all users, keeping in mind national security, economic and environmental factors.
To questions on the flight duties of pilots and the time limit to be maintained for their duty, Bhushan said a committee headed by Civil Aviation Secretary Nasim Zaidi has already submitted its report to the Ministry.
"The report on FDTL (Flight Duty Time Limitation) has to be formalised and sent to the government for approval", he said.
The FDTL issue had acquired prominence after the crash of an Air India Express aircraft in Mangalore in May last year, which claimed 158 lives.
Asked about the newly-created Tariff Analysis Unit set up in the DGCA to monitor abrupt hikes in air fares, Bhushan said, "We are monitoring it (air fare patterns) very closely.
It is being monitored every day on an hour-to-hour basis."
He replied in the negative when asked whether any trend has been noticed in the recent past.
The DGCA chief said during the Diwali period last year, there was "a scare" when the fares shot up due to high demand but continued to remain at high levels even after the peak season had ended.
"After that, things are pretty well under control.
Even during Christmas, this were okay", he said but did not rule out rise in air fares in the future due to the high global fuel prices which have touched USD 100 a barrel.